Effective Practices : Pedagogy
Record Keeping in the Classroom
Pedagogy Section 2
1. What type of record keeping does your school expect teachers to keep in the classroom (e.g. tardies, absences, work in progress)? Do these expectations vary by grade?
2. Describe how these records are kept.
3. How are new teachers instructed in these expectations at your school?
4. What is working particularly well at your school with regard to classroom record keeping?
5. Is there something you would change if you could with regard to classroom record keeping at your school? What is it, and what changes would you make?
What type of record keeping does your school expect teachers to keep in the classroom (e.g. tardies, absences, work in progress)? Do these expectations vary by grade?
Schools expect teachers to keep several types of records in the classroom.
Tardies and absences are tracked by every teacher. In addition, if a child must leave during the course of the school day this is noted by the teacher, and the student is also typically required to check out with the school office.
Homework is tracked, usually beginning in the 4th grade. At this age homework will typically be material already presented in the class. Its purpose is for review of the material, and to allow the teacher an opportunity to see if the student has grasped the material. Older students may receive homework assignments designed with the intention of allowing them to discover new material on a subject outside of the classroom environment.
Class work is also tracked. In the younger grades students often write assignments in a composition book. The teacher will make notes for the student about items that need correction (e.g. a list of misspelled words in a composition or notes about incomplete sentences) and keep a copy of these notes with the students name and date for her files. Math work and dictation are given a few times a week in the grades so the teacher can assess where the student stands in language arts and math skills. Teachers keep records on each student’s work in a block including notes on bookwork, compositions, tests and projects.
In the upper grades and the high school a standard block evaluation form is often used. The form will include the table of contents for the block’s main lesson book. It lists the expectations regarding the quality of the work and describes the way in which points will be assigned to a student’s work in the block. A teacher often expects students to keep a folder of notes and quizzes for the block and asks that this folder be turned in along with the main lesson book. Points may be assigned for main lesson book appearance and content, for tests and quizzes, for projects and for any supplementary materials such as a note folder. The block evaluation form may also include a section for the student’s self evaluation of his performance in the block.
Some schools suggest that teachers use a grid sheet noting the work completed by each student. In the lower grades this grid would include information on the student’s performance on spelling tests and math quizzes. In the upper grades the grid includes a numerical score for all work assigned. One teacher noted that it is sometimes surprising to compare these calculations with her subjective perceptions of a student. On occasion she has found that she was carrying a misperception about the quality of a student’s work, perhaps as a result of remembering a particularly strong or weak performance on a particular assignment.
Disciplinary information is tracked by the teacher and often by the school office as well. For example in one school whenever a student in grades one through five is sent to the office for disciplinary reasons a record is kept. This information is available to class teachers so that a clear picture of a child’s behavior in subject classes as well as main lesson is readily available. In the upper grades this school uses a three strikes system in which strikes are recorded for egregious behavior. After two strikes the parents are called and notified of the difficulty. A meeting with the teacher is required in cases where a third strike occurs.
Homework assignments are often noted on chalkboards in the classroom. Every teacher notes homework assignments on the board and also may indicate whether tests and quizzes are coming up. In this way students are clear about a teacher’s expectations and teachers can work together as a unit by ensuring that students are not overwhelmed by homework on some days.
Year end reports and the notes for parent teacher conferences are another form of documentation that teachers are expected to create and keep. In preparation for the parent conferences the class teacher will often meet with the subject teachers and fill out a form with notes that can be used to give a picture of the student’s progress.
Describe how these records are kept.
Attendance and tardies are tracked by the teacher and reported to the school office in most schools. All teachers keep an attendance book for this purpose, and also complete a form which is kept on a clipboard near the door to the classroom.
Teachers keep copies of the notes given to students regarding assignments in a student file, and ensure that each page is marked with the date and the name of the student. Teachers also keep a book or grid sheet with students’ names that is used to track what has been completed and is still outstanding for each assignment.
How are new teachers instructed in these expectations at your school?
The school’s expectations regarding record keeping are usually spelled out in the faculty handbook. These expectations are also covered by the new teacher’s mentor. Schools hold weekly pedagogical meetings for the various sections of the school (lower school, middle school, high school), and as the calendar of the year goes around teachers are reminded about the various record keeping expectations that exist. This is also a helpful forum for teachers to share expectations with each other with regard to student work and record keeping approaches.
In addition the school administration will communicate directly with new teachers with regard to its policies for attendance, tardies and behavior issues.
What is working particularly well at your school with regard to classroom record keeping?
Schools in our study made the following observations on things that were working particularly well for them:
The homework chart in each classroom is a particularly effective method of record keeping. It is effective for students and teachers alike.
The block evaluation process and form works well. It aids students to be clear about a teacher’s expectations and provides a good clear record of a student’s performance. The block report allows students to take their main lesson books home after a block is completed, and the teacher knows she has the block report to refer to when writing reports at the end of the year.
The school has a good description of what should be included in a student’s year-end report. This clear description aids teachers in knowing what kinds of records they should keep so that the report can be well written.
The written reports that go home to parents are clear, professional, and complete. The quality of our record keeping is evident in the thoroughness of the reports. All reports are read for tone and style in addition to being proofread for obvious spelling and grammatical errors.
We have a good remedial program so we are able to identify, support and track students who need help.
Requiring students to check in and out at the office during the course of the school day is an important aspect of our record keeping. I n the event of an emergency we want to be sure that we do not endanger someone by looking for a student who is no longer on campus.
The school is doing a good job of tracking attendance and tardy information.
We have developed new behavior incident reports and are getting these implemented with the faculty.
Parent conferences and the work with children with special needs are well documented.
Some teachers document their parent conferences, and ask the parent to sign the documentation. The documentation includes a written list of what the school will do for the child and what the school expects the parents to do.
It is helpful to keep track via a stroke tally at the teacher’s podium of who is getting called on in class and to give grades on oral responses in class.
Is there something you would change if you could with regard to classroom record keeping at your school? What is it, and what changes would you make?
We can always benefit from more conversation around record keeping. It needs to be simple and easy to do so it’s not burdensome, and yet help the teacher in her efforts to build a clear picture of the child’s progress and development.
We could do a better job of sharing with each other the various techniques that are used for tracking student progress. We can never share these kinds of ideas with each other too often.
The more we can do to support new and young teachers in their record keeping and tracking of student performance the better. Good record keeping results in a good end of year report and allows teachers to identify and react to concerns early on.