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Rich Henderson's Diary
The First 180 Days

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Rich Henderson, a lawyer, always dreamed of being a teacher. Last year, he gave up his law career and returned to the classroom to earn his teaching certification. This year, his dream finally comes true in a fifth-grade classroom in suburban Woodbury, Connecticut. Each week during this school year -- Rich's first year in the classroom -- he will share with Education World readers his thoughts and feelings about his first 180 days!

Rich's Diary: Report Cards

Week 11

It's over. Finished. The fat lady has sung. I've kiss it good-bye. No, not my teaching career-- the marking period. I can't believe that we have just finished the first marking period. Where did the past two months go? It seems as though I was just getting ready for the first day of school. Yet, that was ten weeks ago. Now, after all these weeks, the focus of my preparation must shift to preparing the report cards.

Report cards. Just the sound of those words can bring anxiety, fear, and apprehension-- and that's just with the teachers. The children are usually not too thrilled about report cards either. But do you know how much time it takes to prepare just one of those things? As an intern last year, I watched my cooperating teacher as she prepared her report cards. Not too bad, I thought to myself as I watched. This year, as I prepare my own report cards, I think to myself, It was much more fun watching.

Preparing report cards is time-consuming. Each of those nasty little numbers that I have been putting into my grade book over the course of the past ten weeks has now returned with a vengeance, saying, "Average me!" Not only do I need to average the grades, but I must also assign some kind of weight to each. How much more should a test grade weigh than a quiz grade? How much do I weigh the homework, projects, and activities? What about class participation, shouldn't that count for something?

At this moment, I don't have the answers to those questions because I have been procrastinating. For the past two or three weeks, I have been saying to myself that I need to figure out the weights for the grades. I have, however, been putting this off in the hopes of having some kind of miraculous revelation as to the proper weights for the grades. No revelation has come.

So now, I have to calculate the weights for the grades on my own. I will probably do it today or, perhaps, tomorrow, but I will do it soon-- I promise. I have to because, as soon as that is done, I have to average more than 100 grades, finalize the report cards, and prepare for parent-teacher conferences.

See, the fun never ends. There is always something new to learn as a first-year teacher, and I can honestly say that I am learning a lot. Yet, it still is fun, and I truly enjoy this job. Perhaps that is why the past few weeks have gone by so quickly.

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Rich Henderson
Education World®
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11/09/2000