Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Reporting Back

I recently came across a pile of old envelopes, which I’d stowed away carefully at the back of a drawer. Even after all these years, I knew exactly what they were, and I’ll admit to you that my heart sank, just the way it used to when I had to carry them home from school and deliver them to my parents.

My old school reports once had the power to either condemn or absolve me and it seems that even after all these years, they haven’t quite lost their sting. I can hardly remember what they say, but I want them to be good even though their verdict doesn’t matter all that much now.

In reality, they’re neither as good as I’d hoped, or as bad as I’d feared. It comes as something of a surprise to find that many of my teachers quite liked me – or at least they describe me as ‘likeable’, which I suppose isn’t quite the same thing but it’s close enough. One even noted that I had ‘developed a sense of humour’, which is perhaps not quite a compliment, since I was twelve at the time. Didn’t I have a sense of humour before that?

There are, of course, the comments which horrified me at the time, but now make me snort with laughter. ‘Annie struggles bravely’ (Chemistry) and ‘Good at times’ (Geography). At least they didn’t say ‘Not particularly interested’, which was closer to the mark in both cases. Games was another subject where my teachers’ enthusiasm for my progress was tempered with obvious reserve. ‘Patchy’ was one of the more succinct comments, although whether that related to my performance or my attendance is now forgotten.

But there are a few things which I can use today. One of my English teachers stated that I had a ‘sound knowledge of comma usage’ – I’m not convinced that the eds would necessarily agree with her, but it sounds promising. ‘She often resorts to day-dreaming’ was, I’m sure, intended as a reprimand but every writer knows that day-dreaming is a vital part of the job. And ‘avid reader’ is, of course, another necessity.

So, taking the good along with the bad, do these reports have all that much to say to me now? Maybe – a little. I think that the thing I can see most clearly, using the passage of time to look at them objectively, is that some of my teachers made comments which were full of insight and others made comments which were just plain wrong. And that’s taught me a lesson. The things that others say about us are sometimes helpful, and sometimes less so. It’s good to listen, but sometimes we shouldn’t define ourselves and our future by how things seem to others.

What do you think? And did your teachers get it right?

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17 thoughts on “Reporting Back”

  1. All my reports pretty much said the same thing – nice girl, tries hard, too talkative. Which pretty much sums me up 🙂
    But school reports are subjective and should always be taken with a grain of salt I reckon. The fact that no employer/uni/apprenticeship etc is going to care what your grade 3 teacher wrote on your report has been heartening for me to remember since becoming a mother myself and having a child who has always struggled – we just look at the behaviour scores and the comments on reports now and ignore the rest 🙂

    1. Oh but Amy, one of the things we like best about you is that you’re talkative (writings’s just an extension of that, isn’t it?). So true that some of the things which were prefaced by ‘too’ are the ones that have since served us best in life 🙂

      I can’t help feeling that ‘scoring’ children rather misses the point – and that the employers/unis who don’t give a hoot what’s on your report have got the right idea!

      Annie x

  2. I was a girl with good academic scores along with “too chatty” and nothing ever changed. I read my two sons reports with a scrunched up stomach wondering what I’m getting. And because these days teachers ave o choose from a drop- down box I don’t put much stock in it. It’s the final comment that knows whether the teacher has captured the essence of my son’s. my eldes usually as some quiet, contemplative thought. My youngest usually makes me howl with laughter. And I’ve got around another 10 years of this….

    1. Hooray for the ‘too chatty’ children, Scarlet 🙂

      And drop down boxes??? It’s hard to see how anyone can sum up a child in a couple of sentences, let alone a drop-down box. It’s good to hear about children who can make their parents howl with laughter over their reports – definitely shows a bit of character!

      Annie x

  3. Not willing to talk about MY report cards….but I’m happy to talk about my children’s!!! To this day I tell them the comments mean more to me than the grades – although I know colleges don’t see it that way. But to me, a C with an ‘Excellent Effort’ is okay because they are working hard and trying while a B with ‘Missing Homework or Unnecessary Talking In Class’ is not good because if they’d done their homework and paid better attention they would have done better.

    Does that make sense?

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Wendy. My mother was a teacher (40 years ago now – in the days when there was more flexibility about what teachers wrote on reports) and she always gave a grade for effort alongside their exam results, if a child had worked hard and really done the best they could she reckoned they deserved an A. Surely encouraging children to do their best, even in things they might not be very good at, is what education is all about 🙂

      Annie x

  4. Annie,
    My oldest starting teaching the second grade in the school where he went to the second grade this year. I pulled out his old papers to use on a bulletin board in his classroom. His report card was in there also. When his students saw it they all said, “You made good grades.” He pointed out that he wasn’t too proud of the negitive sign next to conduct for one six weeks.
    I don’t even want to know what my report cards look like.

    1. What a great idea, Susan! I’m sure that your son’s pupils will be doing their best to match his grades, and that they’ll respect him all the more for having the honesty to show them – even the not-so-good ones!

      Annie x

  5. Ah, report cards, every child’s biggest nightmare. I don’t know if I have anything before my high school and college reports aroung, but I do remember looking in the citizenship columns before i ever looked at my grades. How often my scores were only satisfactory, when I’d tried so hard to be a good kid in class. I must say, no teacher on earth would ever say I had a good use of commas at any given time, including now!
    I’ve kept most of my kids report cards. I hope one day, they’ll both get a kick out of looking them over, like you have now, Annie!

    1. I have to admit I was a bit surprised about the comma’s comment myself, Lynne 🙂 Not really the way I’ve been seeing myself all these years.

      We don’t have a citizenship column over here – is that for general behaviour and attitude? And what a shame that your teachers didn’t see how hard you were trying and reward you for it.

      Take good care of those report cards for your kids – I’m sure they’ll both love looking through them again sometime!

      Annie x

  6. How funny you should have this as your topic, Annie – I’d just found my old school reports and looked through them the other day! They’re good for a chuckle! Lot’s of “day dreaming”, way “too much talking” (which surprised me because I’m a fairly quiet person… well, I think I am! LOL) and a couple of rather unfortunate “Sharon could do much better if she applied herself” in the year that I disliked my teacher intensely!

    And I got a similar interesting comment about a sense of humour when I was about 12 years old too!

    1. Ah, Sharon, more daydreaming and talking. There definitely seems to be a trend forming, here 🙂 And you’re right, sometimes a report reflects just as much on the teacher as it does the child.

      Glad to hear that your old reports made you chuckle!

      Annie x

  7. All too often we stress over the academic marks when it’s the citizenship comments that are truly the most important!

    I’ve just hauled some of my reports out- when I was 9 my teacher, aware of how much I loved reading, wrote: ‘Study words, sentences, ideas the authors use, criticise books and give reasons- try writing your own!’ But then a year later he wrote: ‘There is a tendency for stories to ramble a little’ LOL!! Clearly I’d taken his words to heart!

    In my last year at high school, for physical exercise (which I hated with a passion!!)- ‘Louisa must make the effort to actually turn up, then I’ll make the effort to comment on her progress.’

    1. Louisa, I love that P.E. comment, thank you for sharing it! I wonder whether your English teacher ever thought that his words were helping a budding author along – he obviously unleashed rather more than he’d bargained for 🙂

      You’re so right over the citizenship comments. Character is much more important than exam marks!

      Annie x

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