Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Report time again

Here's the time of year when the most important communication will be made between the teacher and parent. A paragraph of words can lift the confidence, invigorate flagging academic performance or deflate a student to the point of giving up.

Identical paragraphs given to two students may have completely opposite effects.

Teachers for the most part create these paragraphs straight after marking exams and under some fairly tight deadlines. It's usually at the end of a term and we're far from fresh and chirpy. After the exams are marked, reports are finished, students are at their ratty worst at the end of term then we get to talk to parents.

It's week 8.. that time when we think, OMG I'm a little tired.

So, do you play safe and write bland comments and save the deep and meaningful for parent discussion. From a strictly legalistic point of view, it is the safest option. We are often urged to write detailed reports by admin but as a lawyer once told me.. don't commit anything to writing that you wouldn't want to see in a court of law, and it's far safer to not commit anything to writing.

Are we opening ourselves up to legal issues by writing encouraging words to students and enticing them to try harder in order to reach the potential we see in them? If they don't reach the potential are we opening ourselves to liability issues?

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