Each year I buy several ring leaf record cards (one for each school and year group) like these from Wilkinsons. At the beginning of the year I label each card with the name, photo and class/year group of each pupil, and throughout the year I jot little notes down about their progress: participation, pronunciation, accuracy of written work etc. It doesn’t take much time to write a quick line on the card while marking work, or to add a sentence at the end of a lesson. I obviously don’t write on every card every day – just when there is something particular I want to add, such as the fact that they’ve shown particular interest in a topic, started answering more questions etc.
I find this useful at parents’ evenings when I can refer to the card to make sure I don’t forget anything important. When you watch the children grow and progress week by week, it’s sometimes hard to remember that the confident child who is always first to volunteer for role plays was too shy to say their own name at the beginning of the year – especially when you are teaching more than one class in more than one school. I don’t have to spend time writing notes especially for the occasion because I’ve been doing it bit by bit during the year and I’ve had a really positive reaction from parents, who love the personalisation.
It’s also a blessing at this time of year when it’s time to write reports because everything I want to say is right there at my fingertips – a whole year’s worth of progress all on one card. There’s no need to choose from banks of statements, or copy and paste sentences from reports of children who are similar, with the risk of forgetting to change the name. It’s quicker to just write individual, completely personalised reports from the notes in my hand.