Evolution of my narrative comments

In my school, we write narrative comments for all our students twice a year. In order to prepare for my first quarter comments, I looked back at my comments of years past. Although I don’t think my comments are exactly where they should be, I was pretty proud of the long way I’ve come when writing them. [note: information has been changed in all of these.]

They’re not amazing yet, and I know what I need to work on, but I’m happy to see how far I’ve come.

1st year teaching
Stu is a pleasure to have in class. This quarter we have had 4 major assessments: three quizzes and one test. Stu’s grades on these were 13.5/15, 18/25, 59/100, and 43/50. Stu’s homework grade is 95%. Clearly – from her homework grade – Stu spends quality time on her work, which is really important for understanding. On the chapter 1 test, Stu scored a 59% which I know must have upset her. Instead of being frustrated and angry, Stu made an appointment to see me and talk through it. Her improvement was clearly evidenced on the next quiz where she garnered an 86% (43/50). She should be proud of this accomplishment. I continue to encourage Stu to ask questions in class when she’s confused and also to continue to make appointments to individually go over some of the material she finds challenging. Let’s hope this upswing continues into next quarter.

2st year teaching

Stu is a joy to have in class. The earnestness with which he engages with the material in class, working through problems or asking questions, is a boon to any teacher.  I asked students to write a reflection at the end of the quarter, and his was incredibly thoughtful. He wrote “The awareness of my understanding helps me to ask informed questions in class and is crucial to my classroom involvement.” The entire class benefits from these questions.

We have had four major assessments this quarter: a quiz on functions (47/52: A-), a quiz on exponents, logarithms, and trigonometry (35/42: B), a quiz on limits (42/51: B-), and a quiz on limits and continuity (27/33: B-). He has also completed all his homework assignments assiduously. On the first quiz on limits, Stu seemed to have some difficulty understanding the difference between “zeros” and “asymptotes” when doing sign analyses of rational functions. On the second quiz on limits, Stu’s difficulties revolved around proving a function was continuous everywhere (using the fact that it was a composition of two continuous everywhere functions). I encourage Stu to review these quizzes. If he has any questions about how to do these problems, he should meet with me!

His final quarter grade is an 86% (B+).

3st year teaching

Delightfully funny and always striving to do better, Stu is a student who focuses intensely in class to ensure that he understands the material daily. From what I’ve seen so far, it appears that Stu has a strong command of mathematical ideas and abstraction, and he picks up on ideas fairly quickly. When given problems that check student understanding in class, Stu endeavors to get an answer — and is always willing to help those around him also. The questions he raises are good, and I encourage Stu to keep up the volunteerism. The questions he asks benefits the class as a whole.

In a reflection I had students write near the end of the quarter, Stu noted that his way of approaching homework wasn’t working. He said “Initially, I didn’t realize I had to show all my steps and write neatly, but I now know what I need to do, which shows improvement on my part. I’m working hard to be more thorough.” Not only is this important in Algebra 2, but learning to correct mistakes in any class is important because it encourages students to be active learners, not passive learners. Stu certainly is an active learner.

We have had three major assessments and two pop quizzes this quarter. On the major assessments—on sets, inequalities, and absolute value equations; on absolute value inequalities, factoring, and exponents; and on polynomials, domain, and rational expressions—Stu earned 54/60 (A-), 59/70 (B), and 48/50 (A) respectively. On the two pop quizzes, Stu earned 11/12 and 6/7.

Clearly his performance this year has been consistently strong, and I encourage Stu to continue working at this level at the very least. However, I always try to push my students to achieve more than what they think they are capable of achieving, and I know that Stu can do even better.  I am happy to meet with Stu to talk with him about how to achieve this.

In Algebra 2, homework is divided into two parts: daily check for completion, and our binder check for correctness, neatness, and organization. Stu has done all the daily homework, and earned a 25/40 (D) and 45/45 (A+) for the two binder checks.  The binder check is done to encourage organized, active learners, who are expected to correct mistakes. Stu clearly has learned how to do so as the quarter progressed, and I encourage him to continue checking his work for the rest of the year.

Stu gave himself 4/5 for his classroom engagement grade.



  1. I think you’ve created some circular reasoning:

    “Not only is this important in Algebra 2, but learning to correct mistakes in any class is important because it encourages students to be active learners, not passive learners. Stu certainly is an active learner.”

    Learning to correct mistakes is important
    because it encourages students to become active learners
    (an active learner, in part, is someone who corrects their mistakes)


    1. Jonathan – I think you are assuming a tad much on the part of the reader regarding the nature and components of active learning.

      It is true that, definitionally, this might seem redundant. But a parent or guardian (or a later consumer of this information, say, a college admissions essay reader at a highly competitive college — like I was, a long time ago) cannot be expected to know that this is one part of the definition of an active learner.

      And as I read this assessment , it flowed (for me) as: (sentence 1):: establishes the criteria for being assessed in Mr. S’s class as an active learning. (sentece 2): actually assesses Stu as an active learner in this regard.

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