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Late Work Balance

 

Most schools have a late work policy in place but I've found that it requires a balance.  I've worked in districts where it was turned in on time or no credit, 10 points off per day, 1 week late with a penalty, two weeks late with a penalty, and anytime during the nine weeks.  I think this plays a big role in teacher stress and also student progress.

I often hear it's just 1 assignments for my child.  Let's look at this in more depth: if a teacher gives 10 assignments in a nine weeks which take about 5-10 minutes to grade per student, and has about 130 students. Opening up 1 late assignment for half the class at the end of the nine weeks would add about 5.25 hours to 10.8 hours of grading time. 

A focus more recently in education has been grace and flexibility but also responsibility and accountability.  I've heard show the student's grace; be flexible in getting assignments submitted but also teach them responsibility and hold them accountable.    For teachers, this can lead to a pile up of work at the end of the semester to grade and constantly collecting assignments for students throughout the semester instead of spending the time planning, creating, or building relationships.   One thing I've heard from many parents the last few years is that their student keeps being given chance after chance and aren't learning their lesson. I've also heard that they just keep getting passed along.  I think we have to find the balance.

First, we need a deadline and have to stick to it.  I get this may lead to more phone calls and conferences in the beginning but most students will adapt and rise to the expectations.  

Second, we have to provide reminders. I know most teachers do this but I like to provide a remainder when a late deadline is approaching that soon the deadline will pass and the assignment will no longer be accepted.  I remind the student's if they miss the deadline we would need to have a conference with their parents and guidance to discuss why the assignment was not completed.  I rarely have a student get to this point now, in the beginning it was a learning curve for them.

Third, you have to increase communication, which I understand is a challenge.  In the beginning, I was contacting parents once a week when a student had missing assignments, which lead to a large amount of calls.  I would select 3 parents to call a day, this broke up the phone calls throughout the week.  In the phone calls, I would discuss how to check their student's grade which helped a large amount with future work as they started to see when their child missed an assignment prior to me contacting them.

Why is a balance needed?

We can't continue on the path we are on, a change must come for all involved.  For student's, we must help them learn organization to track assignments, how to ask for help when needed, and the importance of learning, as so often content it builds on itself.  For teacher's we have to have realistic expectations, provide true planning time, and allow them time to teach.  


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