Report Card Day

Yesterday was Report Card Day.

As a kid and young adult I always loved getting my report card.

I loved seeing how I did, what my teachers had to say, what little surprises my parents might learn about me and my behavior (which was almost always good with the occasional "talks too much in class"). I cared quite a bit about my grades - not obsessively - they weren't all A's - but they were good and I wanted to do well.

I was a good student. I loved school. Always.

(Okay, except those first two years in college. You couldn't really say I was a good student then but I definitely loved the experience.)

Getting Simon's report card is a bit of a different story.

When it's Report Card Day I encounter a mixture of thoughts and feelings:

THE CHALLENGING STUFF


  • Seeing anything having to do with standardized or percentage-based numbers. Ugh. Just ugh. Usually I look at it, make a couple mental notes, and then move on to the next part of the packet. For Simon, like many students with delays/disabilities/issues, standardized testing (or any kind of testing really) is a major challenge. More often than not the test results say so very little about his actual abilities.

  • For as much as I work on my attitude and perspective and acceptance and the bigger picture, it's still just hard to read about his struggles. I love him, the whole of him, and support and encourage him to do his best every single day.


THE GOOD STUFF

  • Getting to see where he's at with this goals. Each year at his annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting we, along with his teacher and his program director, come up with specific goals related to reading, math, writing, speech & language, and social skills. Most of his goals this year revolve around social skills, reading, and speech & language. His report card includes updates on his progress for each of those areas.

  • Anytime the teacher(s) include something personal. His speech teacher noted how "he comes to speech with a cheery attitude."

  • It's a reminder that things change and progress and get better and get more challenging and that's just the way it goes. Whatever is the biggest issue right now will ebb and flow into another issue. I find it actually helps me keep things in perspective.

  • He's doing just fine and is making forward progress at his own pace. We find ways to be proud of him every single day.


THE GEM

In addition to the "official" report card content, this was included in his packet:

The "M" next to "I enjoy reading." is one of the best things I've seen in a long time.

I got a little choked up when I came to that one.

This is the first year a form like this has been included with his report card. What I love about it is that it gives him a chance to be self-aware - to acknowledge which things might be more challenging for him and which things he's great at right now.

This is the kind of thing we hope for Simon.

That he can develop a love of reading and learning regardless of if he's performing right at grade level. That he can learn to recognize what he needs to work on and celebrate the areas where he excels.

The more confidence we can build in his own abilities the better equipped I believe he will be in the long run.

GO SIMON GO!

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170 thoughts

  1. christine h says…
    02/08/2011

    I will be attending my 15 year old son's IEP planning session for 10th grade next week. It seems like such a short time ago we were starting the whole process, changing from a Catholic to a public school to get more help, hiring a private tutor. School was easy for me, I was and am a reading junkie and it tore my heart to see my baby struggle so much just to identify the letters....in first grade. But here we are now, reading at grade level, doing better at writing, and excelling in physics! Guess that dream to be a "robot scientist" that started at age 5 isn't so far fetched after all. And the best part, every teacher always says my son is curteous and respectful. I make sure my son is well rested and well fed for standardized testing day. Tell him to do his beste. And then I just don't even give it any more of my time/energy. Those things are just so useless if you learn and test outside the box. I think Simon is very lucky to have you and Chris as parents. And I can't wait to see where he lands in his very bright future.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Jayne says…
    02/08/2011

    What an amazing post to share. Like so many others, I am choked up too. How wonderful to see Simon's contribution to his reporting to you. What great successes and achievements for him to recognise and share. Well done Simon :-)

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Nicky from Canada says…
    02/08/2011

    It is so wonderful to read your post today, it is just what the doctor ordered. You and Chris have done such an amazing job with Simon and he is such a unique and wonderful creation. He is doing great and He will continue to follow his path and get there because of the support that you all give him.

    We always struggle with the typicaly ratings and working with Brody's team (he is on the spectrum and Simon's age) - he is a wiz on the computer, loves books and they have told us he is savant in puzzling and memorizing items with a glance, we know he has grade level comprehension but it is difficult to get this teachers (he is in a cluster program) to keep him interested and we seem to be doing more and more at home because they can't keep him focused at school, we are encouraging the use of technolical tools more with him because it is such a driver but it seems to be a forever battle. I am amazed at the things that he does with photoshop, final cut, imovies - so drives him and fasinates him - I am in awe and hope that we too can get him to a good place where he can be what he needs to be. I know one day he will get there. Some days are just more difficult and this one has been one of them.

    But just wanted to say thanks, your post today just reminds me of how blessed we all are to be given the gift of nuturing these very special little boys!!
    God Bless

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. susan ott says…
    02/08/2011

    This was a great blog today. As a teacher it reminds me to be very positive on report cards with ALL students, no matter how much they are struggling. They are still kids and we love them! I always try to stay positive. I love the self checking lists too. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Jeni says…
    02/08/2011

    I teach seventh grade English and read your blog religiously. I have a twelve hour work day today - conferences. I'm missing my own four kids (ages 13, 10, 8, and 2) and had a little break between conferences, so I checked your website. Loved this post and your perspective. It touched me and will help me get through the rest of my long conference day. I love the kids I teach and love my job! Thanks for the inspiration and pick-me-up!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Cinnibonbon says…
    02/08/2011

    Awe yay for you and Simon!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Judy Webb says…
    02/08/2011

    thank you for sharing these very deep emotions. We have a 46 year old ADHD(he came a long way before all the initials). We have walked this road. I pray daily that Simon is Happy and reaches the highest level possible. I Pray that you and Chris continue to have patience and knowledge that you are doing all you possibly can to support Simon. God Bless your family.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Shasta says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali,
    I loved this post! I've been a teacher for 11 years and teaching students to be self-aware and able to assess themselves is something that I value over many of the things that I am required to teach. My husband and I just had this conversation over dinner tonight. If I am able to help my students analyze and evaluate their efforts, their work, and how fix/address the challenges and determine strengths, then I feel like I have prepared them for the real world. Kudos to Simon's teacher and to you and Simon!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Lori says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali,
    I am so proud of you. My son too is an amazing guy, struggling with adhd/inattentive. He is such a smart guy and becoming more self aware. I'd love to see how he'd fill out a self report. Its more important to celebrate success and build on strengths than focus on a number.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Kary in Colorado says…
    02/08/2011

    Sigh. All I can say is enjoy this time, Ali. My son is now in high school--9th grade--and there are not very many bright spots. The teachers say the right things, and he tries so hard, but it is very difficult for "un-ordinary" kids to be successful. He is smart and capable, but he is a round peg that the schools really want to fit in their square hole, and even though it seems like they are trying to help, well--they really don't get it. High school is really all about the grades and the test scores. He is our third child so we have shepherded kids very successfully through high school before, and it is so frustrating to see him struggle and become so discouraged. I hope Simon has a better experience. He will need all the confidence you can give him.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Leora Henkin says…
    02/08/2011

    Go Simon Go is right Ali! Thanks for continuing to share your story with all of us. I think you guys are amazing. I love the self-report card, too!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Liz says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali, this is truly awesome. I have tears. We are not only absurdly proud of Simon, but of you and Chris. Big Love from T-Town.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Deb says…
    02/08/2011

    Thanks for sharing this. I relate to much of what you say as my daughter is also on the spectrum. Report times are difficult for us as my elder daughter gets mainly A's and grace can't understand why she doesn't get all A's. Love the self-evaluation part of the report. Yay, that Simon is loving reading!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Jessie says…
    02/08/2011

    As I read your post all my years in grade school came flooding back. As a child I was diagnosed with dsylexia. I never enjoyed a report card until High School. I love the one that Simon got to do! How cool it would have been to do that and see where I was and that I did do well at somethings! Thanks for sharing! And GO SIMON!!! You can do anything with a great Mom!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Jenny A says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali, I'm another parent who also dreads Report Card Day for the same reason (my 10 year old Vincent has autism). But as the years go on, we too have just learned to celebrate what Vince CAN accomplish. Our report cards are based on Standards with the lowest grade being "Below Basic", the middle being and the highest being "Advanced". It gets really old seeing "Below Basic" on all of Vince's grades. But his teachers are really great about telling us things like "Vince always keeps the class on schedule" and "Vince LOVES art". And always always always without fail, every single teacher Vince has had tells me and my husband how much Vince has taught THEM. And that Ali is the best Report Card we ever get :) Simon is so lucky to have you, Chris and Anna.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Jennifer Robinson says…
    02/08/2011

    My son's teacher and school told me to change my expectations for my son about 10 years ago. We were told he may never learn to read (dyslexia) and he had very big sensory stimulation issues that were a real challenge everyday. We were told he was "on the spectrum..."

    Our son is 15 now. He is an amazing teen. We just received a letter from his school to congratulate him on achieving ALL A's for first semester grades for his first semester in high school! And he was just recently offered drugs for the first time and came home to tell me how he REFUSED the peer pressure. And He is running track and has a part in the Spring musical. I never cease to be amazed by my amazing son. It's quite the JOURNEY Ali (my OLW this year)! Love every minute of it, especially with our SPECIAL boys! I wouldn't have mine any other way...

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Vickie says…
    02/08/2011

    Yes, indeed. Go Simon Go!

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Jessica D. says…
    02/08/2011

    I'm in "Teaching Exceptional Students in the Mainstream Classroom" and we always talk about standardized testing, grades, and students and parents perceptions. While I know it must be difficult for you to share, it is so insightful to read your story about Simon. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Liz Ness says…
    02/08/2011

    This is awesome, Ali (and so honest -- I love that).

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Cynthia Miller says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali... as a new member to your website, I am reading your comments along with the comments of your dedicated followers. How wonderful to be able to be so transparent and share with others your daily love for your family. My son is going to be 23 years old. He was diagnosed with ADD in Pre-kindergarten. These things really weren't shared 23 years ago. There was medication, you take it, and that's it. I felt the burden was all mine. As an adult, he struggles with the fact that his buddies are in college and graduating. They are beginning new chapters in their lives. My son is not college material. However, he is a great friend, and while some of his decisions aren't the best, I know he is sad. He has decided to try to enlist in the Army to serve our Country. I feel this is such a noble decision, and pray he is accepted. I am so pleased to see the changes that are available for your son regarding reporting. I truly hope they quit the standardized testing... as this is a measure of a general population... and our sons are anything but general.

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. melanie says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali, thanks for sharing this.

    I too, loved the self-assessment. My son's third-grade teacher did student-led conferences for her class. Those kids worked really hard for days before conferences on "reflections" -- about how they were doing. He was so proud when he led "his" conference.

    It's a lot of extra work for teachers to do those kind of things, but it's so wonderful to see the kids express themselves in that way.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Erin B says…
    02/08/2011

    As a K-2 self contained autism teacher, I myself struggle with the report card/progress report each quarter. It's such a tiny little picture of my students and what they are doing or not quite doing. It doesn't leave room to talk about the small victories, which can be so important for a special needs kid, especially those who are lower on the spectrum like my students. I'm glad I send home a daily journal where I can send home the little victories and tell parents the good stuff. I love the self assessment. I've been wanting to figure out a self assessment that works for my non-verbal/non-reading kiddos. I also always love your attitude and philosophies with Simon. It's clear that Simon is a happy kiddo with parents who cherish and honor his strengths and special gifts.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      02/08/2011

      Erin - Simon had a daily journal from preschool through grade 2 and it was the BEST thing ever. It gave us conversation starters and a whole other opportunity to connect with him about school and learning AND definitely helped us concentrate on all the good things that were happening. It really made us feel like we were partners with the teachers. The time you take to do those journals is SO SO worth it :).

      How about some sort of happy-face picture schedule-type option for self assessment for the non-verbal kids? Or a thumbs up/thumbs down?

  23. Reyna says…
    02/08/2011

    Thanks for the warm fuzzies Ali. And congrats to Simon on his reading!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Briel Schmitz says…
    02/08/2011

    Hello Ali,
    As an educator, I really appreciated hearing about report card day from the parent perspective. This post really meant a lot to me. I love the self-reflection report card--what a great idea and a wonderful keepsake for Simon. Thank you so much for sharing.

    PS test scores aren't all they are cracked up to be. Really.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Irene says…
    02/08/2011

    Oh Ali, I admire how honest you are. We had report card time last week and tons of emotions came to me. Most were ghosts from my own childhood (I have a learning disability). I was all worried about what the teacher might say about my son, my flesh and blood. I was worried that she wouldn't see how fantastic and wonderful he is, that she wouldn't "get him." I spoke to my mom that evening. She raised eight and always has good insight. I asked how did she deal with it when I came home with bad grades. She, in her typically calm manner said: "I didn't worry about it much. I figured whatever grade you made at least you were learning something. I knew there was something special in you." Words of wisdom. I went to the parent/teacher conference much calmer and with no expectations. As for me, my story has a happy ending. The girl who standardized testing said was too stupid to go college went--and then went to Law school. I learned on my own schedule and at my own pace. One "F" I made in college was the hardest grade I ever worked for. Your Simon, my son, and everyone else's child are on their own path. One mother to another, my heart is with you. Thanks for putting it all out there.

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