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November 21, 2014

Progress reports

by Rabbi Dovid Felt

This week we mailed out progress reports to all our students. One question that popped up was what is the point of a progress report when we have JupiterGrades and parents and students can see their grades at all times. In fact logging on to JupiterGrades a parent can get very detailed information about their son’s classes. So why do we send out a progress report!

At first glance the question seems very convincing but upon further examination they may even be more than one reason for a school to insist on sending a progress report and even go to the expense of mailing it (in an era of email and other electronic means of communication). Lets start with a good explanation; progress reports promote reflection. In our fast paced world we get bombarded with so much information that it is practically impossible to absorb all of it – getting a piece of paper with a snapshot of where one is holding is a perfect opportunity to pause, reflect, take stock and internalize where one is at and ask ourselves am I on track with the goals I have mapped out for my future. Another good reason is that parents are not taking full advantage of JupiterGrades. Parents can follow their son’s grade; they can also find out what is behind the grade. How much of their son’s grade is based on academics and how much is based on participation and behavior. Parents can also find out what assignment were completed which were not. They can also see what grade their son got for each individual assignment, have they improved or are they regressing.

There is still another explanation and one that I would like to focus on, which I’ll call having “the talk” reason. In Parshas Veyaira we found Hashem having “the talk” with Avrohom about Sedom. The Torah relates how Hashem appeared to Avrohom to discuss his plans with regard to Sedom. Rashi explained that the impetus for this discussion was the fact that Avrohom was to inherit Eretz Yisroel and with it the title of Av Hamon Goyim – Father of many nations – Rashi continues and tells us that Hashem pronounced “Shall I deal with the children without informing the father, especially one who is my friend”. Hashem felt a responsibility to set aside time to allow Avrohom to hear what is about to happen to Sedom and more importantly give Avrohom a chance to do something about it. I believe the analogy is there – the education our son’s get is what they inherit from us, when it is not in order it becomes our responsibility to talk to them about it. We need to let them know what is going to happen if they don’t change course and at the same time we need to listen to them and give then the opportunity to come up with their own solution. Getting a Progress report gives us the impetus to have “the talk”.

Felt tips

Parents should feel comfortable to confront their children about their lives. We should never be apprehensive to bring up any topic and discuss it with them. We may need to use prudence when to have the discussion but we need to have it. Using the progress report (assuming that your son hasn’t intercepted the mailman and destroyed the evidence) as a catalyst for the discussion provides that time – let us try to take advantage of it. On the topic, it should be noted that a critical component of the discussion for us as parents, is to listen and be ready to allow our child to share their opinion. While we may have the sagacity about life in general they do have the first hand experience about their own life.

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