Why write a progress report? How does the Montessori progress report differ from a traditional school's report card? NAMC has compiled some helpful information for the Montessori parents and teachers who want to know more about progress reports in the classroom.
How Progress Reports Work in the Montessori Classroom
Purpose of a Progress Report
Progress reports record and assess each student’s academic and social development, as well as clarify goals.
Types of Progress Reports
There are two basic types of Montessori progress reports: the checklist format and the narrative-style report. The checklist format is a checklist of important work, skills, and lessons that the child could receive. The curriculum is broken down into specific areas, which are assessed by an evaluative key. These keys vary, but convey the sense that the material has been 1) presented, 2) practiced, and eventually 3) mastered. For the parent, a checklist seems to focus the attention on the key or “grade”, rather than on the child’s personal qualities and development. These record sheets are important for the Montessori teacher as she is able to record her observations and follow the progress of each child.
The narrative progress report is the most demanding for teachers, but as parents have shared with me time and time again, it’s the most rewarding for parents as they really gain a true feeling as to what their child is learning. The narrative progress report recognizes that each child is unique and whose development cannot fully be understood or assisted by using a checklist approach. It gives a more detailed description of the child’s work and choices of work. For both the parent and child, a narrative report assures them that “My teacher really understands and cares about me/my child.”
The narrative progress report also allows the Montessori teacher to address character development, something which is nearly impossible to do with a checklist. The development of independence, initiative, responsibility, confidence, social awareness, cooperation, concentration, helpfulness, and commitment to work is a crucial element of Dr. Montessori’s curriculum and ones that need the well-thought out use of words to convey.
The Language of Progress Reports: Keeping it Positive
Begin the report with positive comments. It is important for teachers to reflect upon and remember that each child, no matter how challenging, has good qualities. These qualities need to be brought to the forefront of the progress report. Parents are always happy to know that you think well of their child and it also helps “soften the blow” if there are some difficult situations to be addressed.
The language of progress reports should also model the language we use in our Montessori classrooms. Instead of saying “Don’t run!”, Montessori teachers say “Please use walking feet.” The same is true in progress reports. Instead of saying “Magda talks to her friends all the time”, we say “Magda is very social”. Instead of saying “Kevin consistently interrupts during lessons”, we say “Kevin is learning to focus his attention and listen during lessons”.
As a new Montessori teacher, this was the most difficult part of writing progress reports. Over time, it became second nature, but there are still times when I will ask a fellow Montessori teacher to help me re-phrase a delicate statement. I’ve put together some useful phrases to help you when it comes time to write your own progress reports.
Instead of Saying . . . Montessori teachers use. . .
- Wanders from task to task/wastes time … Is learning to occupy his time more constructively
- Short attention span … Is becoming more dependable during work periods
- Not working to full potential …Has great potential and is working toward achieving it
- Doesn’t follow directions ... Is learning to listen to directions more carefully
- Doesn’t maintain a clean workspace/materials ... Is learning to take care of her workspace and classroom materials
- Clingy/needy … Is continuing to grow in independence
- Is easily distracted …Is learning to concentrate on her work
- Irresponsible …Is developing his sense of responsibility
- Doesn’t play fair … Is learning to be more cooperative, careful, and fair
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.