It’s progress report season! Did you know that even preschoolers get progress reports?
This year at my work, it was decided that the early childhood teachers would collaboratively re-work the way progress reports have been written. I gather that, through the school’s history, they’ve gone back and forth between developmental checklists and a more narrative style. While I’ve been writing narrative reports for the past several years, I fully supported the decision to begin using a checklist. There’s 22 of the little buggers, after all, and with very few exceptions, everyone’s developing exactly how they’re supposed to.
Participating in the process of creating a new developmental checklist and progress report style has been fascinating. (Well, sometimes it’s been a pain in the ass. But mostly it’s been fascinating). Outlining the developmental domains and listing the skills and qualities we’d like to see was an opportunity for me to understand the values of this community–as well as for the community to understand its own values. Where does play fall on this list? Do we need a detailed explication of pre-academic skills, or will that make parents worry that their children are behind? How can this report make it clear that we place the highest value on social-emotional development and the desire to learn and explore?
Once we had that down, there were the endless semantic discussions about evaluative terms. Can we use “age appropriate”? What about “area of strength”? “Area of concern”? “Not yet observed”? We tried to interpret each term as a parent might, recognizing that there are overwhelmed and busy parents who will skim the whole thing as well as hyper-involved parents who will pore over each line. We were constantly aware that, if there’s a continuum involved, parents are likely to interpret their child’s performance as “not good enough,” “good,” and “really good.” This was especially tough because we have mixed-age classes (the idea of having separate progress reports for 2-3 year olds and 4-5 year olds was raised, but ultimately rejected). How do we let parents know that it’s fine for a 5-year-old to be “consistently” recognizing letters and letter sounds, and for a two-year-old to be “in progress” in the same area?
This process was so different from documenting the progress and recommendations for students with special needs. I sometimes wonder if gen. ed. teachers know how easy they have it. That’s not a criticism at all! It’s just that as my co-teacher and I have been working our way through these reports, everybody keeps turning out…pretty much fine. There are no worries about whether the environment is supportive enough. We don’t have to frame their development in terms that will make their parents aware of their progress while simultaneously making the Department of Education aware of their intense needs. There is no stultifying IEP language running through my brain, the way there used to be during report season. It’s just a bunch of children who are delightful, hilarious, growing by leaps and bounds, and…pretty much fine.
In case it wasn’t evident from the fact that this entire blog post was about writing progress reports, my personal life has been super-boring lately. In a good way! Cleaning the house, seeing friends, going on dates, watching TV…you know. The use (Uzh? yoojhe? How do you spell the slang shortening of “usual”? And why am I even using it?). Sometimes I feel like hanging up one of those signs you see at factories and construction sites: “____ Days Incident and Injury Free”! You know what I mean: