A mum was downcast and was so since she read the teacher’s comment in Adam’s (her son’s) first term report. Adam was in the fifth form and in boarding school but had never brought home a comment so troubling! The teacher’s comment simply read, “Adam is disruptive.” It was Christmas holidays and the family of four was abroad for the holiday. Much as she tried to see the good in everything her son did over Christmas, she found that she was very irritable, criticizing and nagging everything he did.
Unfortunately, the teacher’s words kept reverberating in her head and she was seeing her son through it. Their holiday was ruined! Such is the power of words- the Yorubas say that, “words are eggs, once they fall to the ground, they cannot be retracted. Mr. Bala was having none of it because he was positive that his son’s behaviour could neither be disruptive nor could it have degenerated to being suggestive of unruliness, ‘cantankerousity’, rowdiness, unmanageability, peevishness, uncontrollability, wildness and indiscipline. He actively attended parent-teachers’ conferences and kept a close tab on his child’s progress – no teacher had ever expressed such concerns! ‘That teacher does not know my child!’ he ranted, ‘I am making a formal complaint of this gross description imbued on my own son! Adam remained distraught while his mum’s sorrow and dad’s rage at the comment continued for the entire duration of their hard earned holiday.
A similar observation, this time positively stated, was entered on another report elsewhere. This was on Ugo Eze’s report in another school, in another state, by another teacher. Like Adam, Ugo was also a senior secondary school student, out-going, self-confident, self-assured and interesting. His teacher’s comment read, “Ugo is improving his skills at attending, focusing and participating at all school events.” His parents were elated at his progress, Ugo himself felt more self-challenged to right all concerns about himself. Ugo’s teacher has clearly taken the responsibility to contribute to sharpening his behavior. You’d agree that there’s a huge difference between both teachers’ comments even though they’re stating a similar observation.
If you feel pensive about writing reports, you are not alone. It is a time consuming and stressful task for teacher and departmental leads. There is no doubt that it is an emotionally intense experience that should be done sensitively and positively.