This time of year always gives me fits. It's parent-teacher conference report time. That means endless hours of paging through a year's worth of notes, digging through those mental files of what I know about the children, and typing, typing, typing, typing. I always have intentions of starting early, sometimes I do, but the majority are always held off for the last minute. I am a procrastinator by personality. Somehow, I work better under pressure. I am always reminded of college finals week.
This coming Friday, I will sit for about 8 straight hours of conferences for the first round. I meet with the parents for 25-minute intervals (5 minutes in between to cushion and to allow for a quick bathroom break). I have the parents come in about 5-10 minutes early so that they have time to peruse the reports. That way, they can have their questions ready before they come in. It is difficult when they don't come in early and you waste the first half of the time watching them read. It's also a little uncomfortable to watch their expressions while they go through it, especially if the child is having some kind of difficulty.
Our reports are all narrative. Sections are divided up by subject area and child development. How much detail you go into tends to vary from teacher to teacher. I am as concise as I can be, but include a ton of information. I have been burned in the past by not including every single little detail that is on my mind. These reports will often follow the child to the next school or next classroom and I want future teachers to know everything there is to know about this child. We also have a special section for our K's who are leaving us. It is somewhat redundant, but follows more of a checklist format, organized in such a way that it is more easily interpreted by public schools. Yes, we wish that our students stayed with us forever, but are realistic and know that only 1/3-1/2 will stay for first grade. Again, we want to make sure that the next school knows everything we know about the child.
The advantage that I have in doing them is that I am a writer. I can type and organize my thoughts pretty quickly. I have also developed a system that works. We have our form that we use. I go through and fill out the generic sections first, such as a summary of everything we have done in social studies, science, art, etc. When I go back through, I can add specific points about that child in each area. Not having to type all of that over and over is a huge time-saver.
I am sure there is always something that could be tweaked in how our reports are presented. We comment on them annually during our meetings. We wish there was some way to streamline the process, while still presenting all of the necessary information. Nothing better has yet come up.
What do your reports look like? How often do you write them?