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The report card crunch

Teachers talk about the trials and tribulations marking the grades

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 30/01) - The week before report cards are issued is a long one for teachers.

Grades must be tallied, there are pages of written evaluations to be filled, and the most difficult task of all -- deciding what sort of mark students should receive.

NNSL Photo

Ginette LeBlanc: spending long hours writing report cards.

"It's a compilation of assessments," says Jeff Seabrook, a Grade 7/8 teacher at Mildred Hall school. "My P.E. (physical education) class is mostly all assessment, but math is more concrete. The concept is there... 'This is the way you do math, and this is the wrong way to do it.'"

Report cards for Yellowknife Education District No. 1 elementary schools came out Nov. 21. The week or two leading up to that date meant long nights at the school. Weekends are not exempt either.

"In order to get started, I have to put in a good solid Sunday afternoon when my daughter is sleeping," says another Mildred Hall teacher, Dean MacInnis.

"After that, you go in on evenings. I like to try and come in three nights a week, and then have it wrapped by the weekend."

With many teachers averaging 200 or more report cards per term, sometimes there is the occasional mixup. MacInnis figures in the 10 years he has taught at Mildred Hall, he has written 10,000 report cards. Only once, he says, did he come close to potential embarrassment by almost slipping the wrong reports with the wrong names.

"Sometimes there are little glitches," says MacInnis. "You have to be careful. There was one situation where one of my lists (of students) was alphabetical and the other wasn't. I was about to send them off when I checked one, and 'oops, wrong student.'"

Ginette LeBlanc, a French immersion teacher at Ecole St. Joseph has some similar near horror stories. One busy day, she forgot to hand out the report cards at the end of the class, and had to chase after students before they boarded the bus home.

On another occasion, LeBlanc had a good head start on writing report cards but there was a glitch in the computer system and to her shock, everyone of her files were gone.

"I guess I learned how to save, so there was at least one good thing in that," LeBlanc said laughing.

Of course, the best thing teachers find about writing report cards is when they are all done.

"At the end of the day, when you're finished the report cards, you're like, 'I'm happy, the parents are happy, the students are happy,'" says LeBlanc.

"You feel like you've done your work, and you feel good about yourself."