///Keeping Track of Student Progress

I like to be very organized.  I like to be on top of everything my students need to learn.  I like to always meet my deadlines.  I’d like it if I am never to blame for my student’s lack of preparation!  I like all of these things, yet I realize that I need a lot of help in making these things happen for every student.  I’ve tried many methods for doing this through the years, and I’ve finally found one that seems to work for me.  Several teachers from one of the online forums asked me to share more about this, hence this post.

This is not an elaborate system, nor is it one which you can buy.  It won’t work for every teacher, but perhaps you can get some ideas about how to set up your own system to highlight the things that are important to you.  You won’t be able to see all of the things I use this system for in my screenshots, so here is a list of things that I monitor with my current system.

Things I track with this system:

  • Theory – The table helps me make sure that I do not miss any concepts, that appropriate review and drilling is successful, and that understanding occurs.
  • Ear Training – Since I do not do this every lesson, this system helps me make sure I assign web based ear training projects regularly, drill certain concepts when needed, and keep track of how the student does when these concepts are introduced.
  • General Progress – When I make notes during and directly after each student’s lesson, I am much better at remembering what needs to go into the next week’s lesson plan.
  • Lesson Planning – I spend time each week planning for each student: what we need to review, new concepts we need to cover, etc.  Sometimes I lesson plan at the end of the lesson day and other times, I wait until the day before their lesson. Since I take careful notes from the previous week, I can be sure that I don’t forget any thing.
  • Missed lessons/general comments – If I have a student who misses a lot of lessons, who struggles with their attitude, who continues to show a lack of progress because they are not doing as I ask, I keep track of this in my weekly notes so that I can give the parent a detailed report of what is happening and how it has been happening.  Dismissing a student is never easy, but if the problems are well documented, it is much easier for me to take these facts to the parent to explain the dismissal.
  • Potential Repertoire – For intermediate students, I often make a list of repertoire that I think they will like or that I want to make sure they learn during the year.
  • Yearly Progress Reports – These notes help me prepare a progress report.  It is amazing how many things I forget that the student has accomplished when I read through the years’ notes.

A Sample Progress Sheet

On the right is a screen shot of one of my student’s progress sheets.  Student Progress Sheet PDF to see it more clearly.  Here are a few things to note:

  • The first table contains a list of the theory and ear training concepts that are part of this students level for our state assessment test.  On this page of my website, you can see that there is a web activity, downloadable worksheet for every one of these concepts.  My students are assigned a new “Web Activity” or “Web Reward” to do each week and I write their score in the table to track their progress.  You can obviously place anything in this table!
  • The second table is where I list the pieces I think would be good for this student and the pieces this student has told me she wants to learn at some time.
  • The rest of the sheet contains from her weekly lessons.  I make notes during her lesson and at the end of her lesson so that I do not forget what I want to say.
  • Anything in red is what I will be doing the next week.  I like to use red so that it jumps out at me when I open the computer during the student’s lesson.

Equipment Needed

I use Google Docs (free to anyone with a gmail account) to create these progress sheets so that I can access them any where I have internet access including my local music store, a convention, Starbucks, etc.  While I could have a separate document for each student, I actually have all my student’s progress recording in the same document.

I use a laptop because I need to have the computer right next to me during the lesson.

The most difficult thing in implementing this system has been to just remember to look at the computer at every lesson and to make myself takes notes right away when I think of something.  Once I got used to this, it was simple and effective for me.

What about you?

What do you you use to keep track of your student’s progress?

By | 2016-12-31T15:20:16+00:00 April 6th, 2011|Organization and Efficiency, Piano Teaching|6 Comments

About the Author:

Wendy Stevens
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  1. Luba April 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Wendy! My current system is to take notes in an excel spreadsheet (one sheet per student so that it is all one document) and save it in dropbox so that I can access it anywhere. However, it is not nearly as nicely formatted and organized as yours! This gives me a lot of ideas on how to improve my system. How do you manage using your laptop during lessons? Do you also take notes for students in their notebooks? I can see how using my laptop would be extremely helpful but I worry about juggling so much stuff!

  2. amdow April 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Thanks Wendy – I’d love to see a sample of your yearly progess report too. I always wonder how in-depth I should be on these when I do them.
    Do you give the student access to these weekly forms online or do you print them out?

  3. Kathleen Gault April 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

    This is great, Wendy. I too like to be organized, and the hardest thing for me to do is track everything. I’m going to print this out and think how I can adapt it for my own teaching. I use my laptop for printing out student assignments, but I would say my biggest challenge with that is getting the students to actually LOOK at the sheet during the week. I have tried embedding little puzzles, rewards, etc in the middle, but have never once had a student come to their lesson and say, hey, I read your comment, give me my treat….. Sigh.

  4. Cristina April 6, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I have a much less “modern” approach, but it works for me. I have a notebook for each student (my own, not their assignment book) and I jot down what we did in each lesson, anything worth noting, and any ideas that I want to do at the next lesson or in the near future. At the end of the week, I plan the lessons for the coming week by looking at the notes from each student’s last few lessons and making a rough outline for the next lesson. I keep track of potential repertoire in an excel spreadsheet.

  5. Dorla April 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I too like to be organized and love the way you have this form set up. However I find that it is not easy for me to type notes for me and write in the assignment book during the lesson, so I am not consistent!
    Please share more tips!

  6. Marcia April 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Very interesting, Wendy. I’ve used all sorts of files, excel files, word tables. I made my students each a notebook this year, and made one for myself. I used the Pro Click binding system available at Office Depot so I could add things as we go, but they are still in a spiral binding. In my notebook is a sheet with a table and columns for scales, cadences, arpeggios, theory, sightplaying, and repertoire, one sheet per student. I started making notes this way by hand, then later in the year I added a copy of the piano exam registration sheet so they were all ready to go when the registration date came up. Out of 30 students, 20 of them are taking piano exams, so every lesson for the past few months we go over the reg. sheet quickly and make notes to drop or add a piece. In their notebooks they have a grid for marking off keyboard skills as they learn them, and by now are taking 1 practice test on the keyboard skills each week. I keep track of their skills on their grid sheet now (decided not to micro manage and be obsessive about this a few years ago). On the same grid sheet is a place to list the exam pieces they are memorizing. Sometimes I make notes about their lesson needs in my Palm PIxi, so the info is available to me wherever I am. I leave memos for myself on my Palm Pixi phone as well, as to what music to purchase, copies to make, etc. I’ll always be working towards an even better way to organize all this info about each student, so your post was helpful!

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