Writing report cards
While most of my friends have just some caring words to offer when I refuse an invitation for a bike tour due to the fact that I still have too many report cards to write, I have come to experience a very special quality in this activity. Looking into my papers and reading feedback sheets which I wrote during the year, I summarize my impressions and try to come to concise but still comprehensible formulations – having the pupils very present before my inner eye. In my reflection of the year, some of the things and moments that I found really bothering during the lessons lose their importance and step back behind qualities that are worth valuing much more. Sometimes I even erase a reproval because it suddenly seems to be irrelevant against the background of a whole year.
A feeling of appreciation remains. I gratefully acknowledge everything my pupils worked on and achieved. I get the feeling that through my reflection I get a glimpse of the human being who sometimes uses masks and bad behavior to hide behind. It’s like coming to peace with some pupils. Something has come to an end, and I am already looking forward to the time after the summer holidays. With most of my pupils I will have the chance to start a new chapter in these sometimes quite long-lasting teacher-pupil relationships.
Correcting exam papers
How different my feelings are during the process of correcting exam papers. Already the word “correcting” gives a clue: looking for mistakes, awarding points, and identifying deficits, measured against a set of prescribed answers. And despite the fact that I also mark the aspects the pupils achieved, everything is measured against a given standard. Everything below the highest mark seems to be not good enough, has not reached what is supposed to be desirable. Certainly, I know that it would be an illusion to think that everybody can reach the same outcome. Nevertheless, in state exams everybody will be measured against the same standards, which suggests that most of the pupils remain in a sort of deficit – even if their results from the point of view of the individual pupils have turned out to be quite good.
Hence these state exam corrections are often accompanied by a feeling of dissatisfaction. I question whether I did everything right, whether I should have explained this in more detail or pointed that out strongly enough. It will take some days before I manage to free myself from the effect of standards and competition, before I can really be grateful again that for most of the time I can evaluate and value my pupils for what they are and what they do by measuring them on their own terms with respect to their individual possibilities.
Questions of assessment and evaluation combined with a close observation of the learning process will be a main focus of a new elewa course which will start in September. (Examples will be taken from classes 7 to 12).
I would be curious to hear what you associate with report card writing and exam corrections. Feel invited to share your own thoughts in the forum and read what other colleagues think.