Documentation: A Teacher’s Life Boat
Document! Document! Document! I cannot tell you how many times I heard the word “document” my first year teaching. Fellow teachers told me to document everything. At first, I thought they were exaggerating, but I quickly learned that documentation may, in some cases, save a teacher from being raked over the coals and eaten by wolves.
What Should Teachers Document?
Teachers should document parental contacts, student behavior, failing students, incomplete assignments, verbal warnings, discipline referrals, just in case any questions or concerns surface later in the semester. If a teacher warns a student for sleeping during class, a teacher should document the date, time, student’s name, and a brief statement describing the occurrence.
Why Is It So Important?
I have seen it all and heard it all from parents who attempt to manipulate their son's/daughter's teacher. Parents attempt to manipulate teachers so they can get what they want, whether that is to get Johnny to complete his makeup work after the deadline has passed or to get the teacher to pass Johnny. If a teacher's documentation is accurate, a teacher can easily prove that Johnny did not turn in assignments X, Y, and Z and that he slept through instruction three of five days each week.
Benefits of Documentation?
Documentation is a great tool to have when a teacher is sitting in a parent teacher conference, and a parent attempts to manipulate the facts and give a misconstrued account of the situation. A teacher can refer to his/her documentation, read the statements, and set the facts straight using solid evidence. In this case, documentation typically works as an intimidation factor as a parent realizes that the teacher has his/her ducks in a row and is not willing to budge from his/her position.
Be proactive. Documentation comes into play when a parent wants to know whether or not his/her student attended after-school tutoring as the student claimed. Usually, a parent is just attempting to see exactly what his/her student is doing and if the student is doing what he/she said he/she was going to do.