School Reports for Writers by Georgie Tennant
When I was at school, I used to look forward to the end of the summer term and the handing out of crisp, brown envelopes to the class. ‘For the Parent or Guardian of …’ the important-looking lettering declared. You guessed it – I was the classic ‘goody-two-shoes, polish-my-halo,’ student, who couldn’t wait to run home, hand over the envelope to the eager addressees and await my reward. When I finished Primary School, my much-loved teacher wrote a poem about me (as I was already a keen poet, even then), to accompany my report – it delighted and thrilled me that she would take the time to do so and I can still remember parts of it now.
I’m sure there were many others who, conversely, longed to throw theirs in the nearest bin and hope their parents were never any the wiser. I can remember my own dismay when, horror-of-horrors, I was given a ‘C’ for achievement in art in the second year juniors. Looking at my artistic ‘talents’ now, I am surprised I even reached those lofty heights.
Receiving my own sons’ school reports, these days, is usually a cause for celebration, too – though much is copied and pasted and much less personal than it used to be – evidenced when my oldest son’s teacher mentioned that he takes great care with the presentation of his homework and spellings– hmmmm…I think he might have got the wrong child there – mine is destined to be a doctor with his spidery scrawl!
All this got me thinking about school reports – what would my school report look like for my writing, so far this year? I decided to have a bit of fun and give it a go:
Georgie started the year with enthusiasm, setting herself some sensible and well-thought-through goals. She should be congratulated in successfully realising some of her aims, although her motivation waned in the latter half of the year.
Whilst Georgie prides herself in being organised, and this could be an asset to her writing, she often fritters this skill away in other areas – planning holidays, birthday gifts, meals out, and how-to-feed-everyone-as-well-as-do-the-swimming-run, instead of getting down to the hard task of writing.
Georgie is proud of her progress with technology, although it is still not an area of great strength. She is fond of demonstrating her aptitude with PowerPoint animations and her ability to ‘sort columns’ in Excel, but her blog could do with some serious updating. Perhaps she would benefit from using a search engine to find relevant articles to help her with this, instead of spending time on social media.
When Georgie does write, she needs to have greater confidence in herself. Her work is well-received by those who read it; she must become less focused on the numerical reach of her audience. Perhaps she could consider reducing how many times per minute she refreshes Blogger, after publishing a blog post, to 7 times per minute.
Georgie works well under pressure and responds to deadlines. She is slowly learning to plan in work that doesn’t have an imminent deadline, but this is an area she needs to work on. She likes immediate feedback and responds well to praise but must learn to look at the bigger picture and learn the longer-term joy of delayed gratification.
Overall, Georgie has grown as a writer this year and I look forward to following her progress in future years.
Use of technology: C
Positive Mental Attitude: C
Working to deadlines: A
Long-Term Thinking: D
Avoiding time-wasting: D
In writing it, I found myself wanting to be critical…silly…sarcastic. I wanted to mimic the voice of the teacher who wants better for her student but is conservative with the praise and gives only veiled encouragements. The process of writing it, perhaps, is interesting in what it reveals – about my own image of myself as a writer and how quickly critical I can be of myself – as, indeed, we all can.
I think it is an interesting exercise – and one we can bring before God, prayerfully, asking HIM what HE might write instead. We all have targets, aims and goals and we all berate ourselves for falling short. But let’s celebrate our progress and be encouraged – I’m quite sure that God’s annual summary report for our writing would be quite different from our own.
Georgie Tennant is a secondary school English teacher in a Norfolk Comprehensive. She is married, with two sons, aged 11 and 8 who keep her exceptionally busy. blog: