Keeping Anecdotal Data Objective

Categories: Data | Resources

If you are in this field you have likely had to deal with some students aggression (read this post about dealing with aggression). Not only can this be physically painful it tends to really mess with your teacher mojo. Your self confidence is shot. You feel beaten down – mentally and physically. Wine becomes your new best friend. I’ve been there. I in and out of that state right now. But to throw salt on the wound comes the paperwork this brings. Because you know, your day wasn’t quite difficult enough getting hockey style checked into a concrete wall by an 11 year old – so let’s add on the forms. In all seriousness the paperwork is obviously necessary.

It is absolutely essential when you are in this situation that you cover all your bases. 

Fill out each and every necessary accident report, data sheet, and parent letter. You want a paper trail. I hate to sound cynical but sadly in this day and age – you need to cover your butt. There is nothing in the world worse that getting involved in a due process case. But if it comes to that – you want to make sure that you did everything you could and followed protocol at all times.

Assume everything you write could be read by a judge/lawyers if the situation goes due process. 

I know – so cynical. But honestly you’ll be happy you did if anything ever comes to that. In situations of high aggression – you are likely going to be asking the school district for something – whether that’s additional training, a one on one paraprofessional, change of placement, or a more restricted placement. You need to be ready to back up your case.

I spent last week writing several accident reports. I absolutely hate these and this tends to be what I usually forget about. I also take my data, record time, magnitude, and any potential antecedents but those dang accident reports – ugh. I hate them because in my districts – it’s basically an anecdotal account which is what I supremely hate. I have a deep seeded annoyance with anecdotal data. First off – who freaken’ has time to take anecdotal data? I’m lucky to swipe a few tally marks on my data sheet and circle a few functions. And secondly – it’s crazy subjective. Two people can see literally the exact same issue and write completely different accounts. So it dawned on me last week – we really need to strive to make our anecdotal data objective. This will make it more useful and is less likely to cause an issue later down the road. People can’t argue with facts but they can argue with over-exaggeration and offensive language.


So do your do diligence. You’ll get through it – I promise. Take the extra steps now to make it easier on yourself later!

I felt like these two pictures were appropriate for this post! If you are dealing with a lot of student aggression – you are not alone! 🙂

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  1. Thank you for sharing! I agree 100% that we need to document everything. I have been to court and my district won the case because of a great paper tail and detailed notes so teachers please protect yourselves and document, document, document!

  2. This is very helpful, especially for a new professional like me! THANKS! 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing! It’s ALL about the paper trail.


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