Report writing- not the kind where you proudly declare every bit of useful (useless?) information you have gathered on the Gila Monster to the delight of your classmates who find its resemblance to a dragon thrilling and chilling, but the kind where you step cautiously and choose the words that most accurately and simply state what you SEE and what you have FOUND and answer the all important question: SO WHAT?
I have always felt as though words have the enjoyable quality of being precise: that the existence of synonyms was really an oversimplification of the depth of meaning of qualitatively different words. Jubilant and joyful, which they both describe happiness, are different: a person is jubilant in a fist pumping, cavorting in the middle of a sunny day kind of way, while a person is joyful in a peaceful, content, beaming at everybody they meet kind of way.
But in the description of a child whose assessment reveals a complex weave of strengths and weaknesses words begin to feel more dangerous. Generic descriptions are easier, safer, allow for more wiggle room. My penchant for definitive language has been tempered by an effort to describe only that which I have been able to conclude and not that which I have hypothesized, and a feeling of nervousness that accompanies my novice efforts. With these thoughts in mind, I look forward to writing my fiftieth report with a practiced, precise hand.