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The Ultimate Guide to Stress-Free Report Card Writing

It seems like we just finish one and another arrives. I wish I was talking about a beloved show with more new episodes that are released to resolve that big cliffhanger. But what I’m really talking about is report cards. 🤪

In the past, I’ve found writing report cards to be all-consuming. In fact, my husband used to gauge my progress based on how many times I’d cried in frustration or how many little rewards I’d bought myself. Seriously!

And to be fair he was never very far off in his calculations! However, I realized the tears of frustration and the stress of the season were just not sustainable. I could not imagine every report card season being this way. 

So, while little rewards remain, I figured out better ways to navigate writing report cards that significantly reduced my stress and made the process much easier on me (and my husband!). And I’m sharing my tips and tricks to make writing report cards stress-free for you too!


The Free Guide to Stress-Free Report Cards

I designed this free guide to stress-free report card writing with detailed videos, templates, and further instructions on how to take the steps I’m sharing in this blog post to the next level! Be sure to download the free guide by clicking here.

Step 1: Finalize Assessments/Grading

To prepare for success you need to figure out what assessments need to be completed before you can fully calculate final grades. 

Through your long-range plans, curriculum docs, and grade book you can determine what assessments still need to be assigned and which still need to be marked. Remember you don’t need to mark everything! And if you’re missing data consider how you might use observations, one-to-one conferences and discussions as a way to gather more data to help finalize a grade.

I like to make cross-curricular connections to save time grading. Designing lessons and assignments that incorporate more than one subject or expectation is part of my set up for long-range plans. Read more about making effective long-range plans in this post.

Step 2: Write Out the Report Card To-Dos

One of the things that stressed me out most about report cards was trying to keep everything I needed to do stuck in my head. There is power in thinking of all the steps for report cards and writing them out. 

You can create a chart or a long itemized list (templates for both of these options are included in the free guide). In general, you’ll consider adding things like learning skills, subject comments, IEP/ELL modified comments, calculating final grades, proofreading, and entering final versions into the reporting system.

Be warned that this list will feel long and daunting at first glance! But just think this was everything you would be carrying around in your brain and now you’ve made space to breathe! And, rest assured there are ways to work with this list that are definitely not daunting. 

But there are ways to reduce the work required with such a long list! One option is to use one (or more) of these report card comment generators. Each one is for a specific grade level from 1 through 8 and includes comments for all subjects. Comments are included for levels 1 through 4 so all you need to do is pick the comment and the generator will do all of the heavy lifting to put student names and pronouns in the correct spots. 

Step 3: Schedule in Deadlines

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there and procrastinated until the report card writing day. Then we’ve had a little (or big!) breakdown about how much work needs to be done. Sure our kitchens were clean and our closets were reorganized, but there were still those unfinished report cards. 

This step ensures we don’t go to that place again!

Prepare yourself by establishing mini milestones throughout the process. For each “milestone” in your report writing, schedule a week you’d like to work on that task or to have it completed.

For example, in one week I would write subject comments. Then the following week I would focus on learning skills with this ready-made editable learning skills comment builder. It allows well-written, personal comments to be done in minutes. Gone are the days of reading through all report card comments to ensure you aren’t repeating yourself since all of the terms and previously selected comments are laid out on the page.

Once learning skills are done, students will have turned in completed assignments and I can mark them throughout the week. Then I would set a date for the following week as my day to enter everything into the school’s reporting system.

steps to writing report cards

Step 4: Stick to the Schedule!

Of course, this final step is always easier said than done! You will find distractions but try and stick to the schedule! This means establishing specific routines for your time management such as using your prep periods when possible or following the Pomodoro Method for effective work time. Get more time management tips for teachers in this post.

The other thing to consider in report card season is the value of keeping life a bit more simple. Maybe it’s adjusting your social schedule a bit or streamlining meal prep or using a meal prep service for a couple of weeks so that added chores of meal planning and grocery shopping are off your to-do list. 

The goal is to be gentle with yourself in this season! Reward yourself when you accomplish a mini-milestone! Whether it’s checking out that first episode of the new season of your fav show, grabbing a fancy coffee, or even just spending a bit more time on your self-care routine. 

Trying to make report cards less stressful is the goal and this free guide is here to help you with that goal!

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I’m Katarina and I teach elementary students in Toronto, Canada. I’m passionate about creating authentic learning experiences that students will love and remember. If you are looking to improve your classroom management and engage your students with easy-to-implement resources and tools, you’re in the right place!

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