Grade Reports, by Jessica Roake

Faculty Handbook: The extensive grade reports Shady Glen faculty members prepare for students can be daunting for first-year teachers, but preparing notes throughout the semester makes the writing easier! Remember, be specific! See the sample report attached below for guidelines.

Pre-Draft Notes on Mickey: (Personal and Confidential)

Recess: While healthy competition is to be encouraged on the playground, Mickey should not divide his class into ‘Jacobins’ and ‘Royalists’ (Mickey’s ‘Guillotine-Ball’ is now prohibited on school grounds). Fair play is important, and teamwork is not about “finding the enemies in our midst.” Perhaps “Fair Play is Fun!” could be worked into the daily affirmations Mickey is apparently encouraged to chant at home. (Repeatedly? In a low gutteral growl? Lying on our share rug in a fetal position? During Science?)

Art: Mickey’s last drawing, The Secret Police Come for Traitorous Charlotte, triggered his desk-mate Charlotte’s IBS.

Social Studies: The result of Mickey’s ‘revolution’ last month was a reign of terror that at least one of his classmates will not be coming back from anytime soon (Peter, a gentle soul dubbed ‘bourgeois pig’ and sentenced to the firing squad by Generalissimo Mickey, is now being home-schooled). Show Trials and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not concepts I had planned on exploring with third-graders, but the coup seemed to warrant a change in lesson plans. We spent a lot of time on healing, reparations, and deprogramming Charlotte, and as such the class missed the charming community garden tale, Seed People. That’s on Mickey. I’ve developed a relationship with one Carlo Rossi that I blame squarely on Mickey, and maybe a little on Mr. Writ in the classroom next door and his insistence that I just need a stronger classroom management style. Passing out drunk is the only way I know to keep Mickey’s nascent fascism out of my pitiful semblance of a night’s sleep.

Positives: When he is not pulling other children’s hair, transforming crayons into shivs, staging revolutions, quoting Nieztche, accusing his classmates of treason, and generally making my waking life a nightmare from which I fear I will never wake, he is OK in Math.

Now you’re ready to start the writing process! Using your notes, craft a short narrative that highlights the student’s accomplishments. Tip: start and end with a positive!

Draft #1 (Personal and Confidential)

Oh boy, what a sparkplug Mickey is! Art presents a challenge to Mickey, as he is unusually taken with identifying ‘degenerate themes’ in the work of his classmates. In his own work, I would encourage him to use the ample art materials provided rather than the contents of my purse, which is not, as he insists, “Property of The State, and I am The State.” I’m also hoping that Mickey will benefit from our ‘Hooray for Human Rights!’ unit, which I have developed with the help of the school administration and a licensed crisis counselor. Mickey is a very confident child, but it is important that he use this confidence to foster positive leadership opportunities, and not to stage coups. I’m not sure when Mickey became versed in The Art of War, but here at Shady Glen Cooperative Center, we encourage peaceful cooperation, not the kind of “iron fist” leadership that espouses “death to Charlotte and the intellectuals.” Appropriate language, keeping hands to ourselves, listening (to his classmates, his teachers, the fire alarm, or the police), respecting UN sanctions, not speaking Pig Latin German in class, and adhering to basic rules of society would all be worthwhile goals for Mickey this year. He continues to grow in Math, which is his best subject.

In the final draft, remember to frame all comments in a constructive, positive light!

Final Grade Report: Mickey

The words to describe Mickey do not come easily, such is the unique creature delivered to my classroom this year. Hieronymus Bosch has nothing on the elaborate visions your child sets forth on paper during Art; I never thought that my lipstick could create such lifelike blood for Mickey’s Francis Bacon-inspired painting, The Oppressor (and Traitorous Charlotte) Mauled by Troll-Wolves. Mickey carries this creativity into every aspect of his life. His anthems, loyalty oath, and misinformation campaign, for example, was extremely creative (one could argue that labelling me ‘the Czarina whose day shall come’ in pamphlets ‘smuggled’ in via Mickey’s birthday cupcakes was a tad more libelous than creative, but my brief mental health leave gave me some much needed perspective on Mickey’s special talents). Mickey is a very powerful leader, in the great tradition of Central American, Chinese, and European ‘Generales’ of the mid to late 20th century (I would name names, but I already did that during my ‘trial’ last month! hahahahaha!), and his spirited defense of Stalin was a very original Show-and-Tell subject. Mickey has developed an impressive knack for debate (especially with me!) and self-expression, especially when it comes to critiquing concepts such as ‘personal space,’ ‘private conversations,’ ‘inside voices,’ ‘civil liberties’ and ‘democratic government.’ Mickey shines like a young Einstein in Math, where is among the most gifted I have ever taught. I wholeheartedly recommend he entirely skip the rest of third grade, and move right into Mr. Writ’s fourth grade class, where I look forward to watching his great accomplishments from afar.

Jessica Roake used to teach the Youth of America and write euphemism-heavy grade reports for a living. She lives, writes, and tweets in DC, and now enjoys using the words “hyper,” “focus” and “brat” with impunity.

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Grade Reports, by Jessica Roake