Reviewing Report Cards with our Children


Earlier this week I forwarded a post to our faculty and staff entitled:  Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions. Sometimes we forget that the part of the growth process that yields short and long term results is the process. Sometimes, as parents, we feel responsible for our children’s successes and shortcomings. Sometimes, as adults, we remember our own school experience through rose-colored glasses. Sometimes, we forget we are not supposed to rescue our children. Sometimes, we forget they do not need rescuing. Sometimes, they surprise us and perform beyond our wildest expectations. Sometimes, they disappoint us. Sometimes, they disappoint themselves. This is ALL part of the process. It is all important. It is all good. It just does not always feel that way while we are in it.

Recently, my mother shared a box of memories with each of her five children. She had been cleaning our drawers and files and we each received a photo box of pictures, trinkets, and information. In my box were my report cards from grade 1 through grade 12, all of my standardized testing results, countless embarrassing tooth school photographs with teeth missing and awkward smiles, and some special momentos from elementary and high school. What did I remember before I reread my report cards? I loved school. I felt at home in school. I wanted to perform well for my teachers. I wanted to represent my family honorably (as the oldest). I was Maria in The Sound of Music and Mary in the Christmas Pageant (twelve years of Catholic school). I fell in love with French in grade 9. I made National Honor Society as a junior. I applied to four colleges. What do my report cards show me? I was VERY social. I worked hard in some classes and some years and less so in others. I found my first passion in music and theatre and my second (and eventual career) in French.

Feedback IS the breakfast of champions. It is important that we give and receive feedback. It is equally important that we help students makes sense of their performance through both their own experiences and the observations their teachers share. It is important that we do not project our own experiences, positive or negative, hopeful or crestfallen, onto our children. They do not need to relive our lives. They need to navigate a world that is different from ours and live their own. Feedback, failure, and success are the heart and purpose of the growth process.


About Kathleen McNamara Head's Up!

an educator in Independent Schools for over 28 years
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