Report Card Comments for Behavior

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Report card comments can be a great way to communicate with families about how their children are progressing in school. This lesson will help you understand how to craft helpful comments pertaining to student behavior.

The Purpose of Report Card Comments

Report cards are an important part of assessment and communication. With a report card, you can measure a student's progress and let the family know how their child is doing. Sometimes, the comments section of a report card can be the most meaningful part. This is the portion where you can go beyond simple grading metrics and really describe what you are seeing with a particular child.

Yet even though they are really important, comments can be hard to write. This is particularly true with comments that deal with student behavior. Behavior is an aspect of social emotional learning, and it is important for families to know how their children are doing in school behavior-wise so that they can encourage and support adaptive behaviors. In this lesson, you will follow some master teachers and some parents to learn what is helpful in writing report card comments for behavior.

Overall Guidelines

Principal Foster always gathers the teachers in her school together when report card time rolls around. She finds that there are some general guidelines that help teachers write comments that really help facilitate a positive school/family connection. Principal Foster tells her teachers:

  • Try to communicate problems with families before report cards go home, so that there are no major shocks.
  • Always start your comments with something positive, and try to end with something you are doing to help the student along.
  • Carefully consider your goals for the student prior to writing the comment, then think about how the comment might help you reach that goal.
  • Watch spelling, grammar, and punctuation- it helps to have a colleague read your comments before you sent them home!
  • Be honest about what you are seeing and what you hope will happen.

Following these guidelines helps teachers at Principal Foster's school establish and maintain great connections with families around supporting student behavior.

Commenting on Positive Behaviors

Ms. Larkin is a seventh grade math and science teacher at a school where she sees a fair number of behavior problems. One of Ms. Larkin's strategies for communicating with families is to be careful to write comments about positive behaviors as well as negative ones. She keeps a notebook where she jots down kind or helpful things she sees her students doing. Then, when she goes to write her comments, she finds that she has plenty of examples of ways that her students are behaving well.

Parents whose children are in Ms. Larkin's classes really appreciate how Ms. Larkin notices how their children are trying to improve their behavior over time. Ms. Larkin makes note of attentive behavior, behavior that supports a strong community, friendly behavior and behavior that supports learning. Students in her class trust that she is noticing the many ways they try and communicating this to their families.

Commenting on Problem Behaviors

Rochella is a mother whose daughter Josephine has always struggled with behavior in school. Rochella knows her daughter has many strengths, but she also understands that behavior is not one of them. Rochella puts together a panel for families and teachers at Josephine's school where they talk about what sorts of comments are most helpful when describing a child's difficult behavior. The parents on the panel agree that they appreciate:

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