As I sit here staring at my syllabus for next year in denial that I’m embarking upon my 14th year of teaching, I grapple with changing my late work policy for the upcoming school year.
Last year during the first semester, I accepted late participation work for half credit and any late test grade assignments for a letter grade off until the grading period’s end, resulting in a bejeebus load of poo-on-a-stick late work to assess right before grades were due. Post Christmas, I didn’t accept any late participation work and issued one late pass per nine weeks for test grade tasks, allowing students 24 hours to turn in a late assignment for full credit. Once that pass was cashed in though, I didn’t accept work period–unless the student was in danger of failing.
If you’re reading this with a parental or administrative eye, you might cringe at my former policy’s harshness, but . . .
- In my classroom, there are nine grades per nine weeks. Typically, students take two tests. I’ll assess them through writing and projects for the other grades. Unfortunately, a hefty number of 8th graders avoid completing complex assessments because it’s time-consuming, hard, and, let’s face it, boring.
- You might decry my policy for admitting my assessments are time-consuming, frustrated with your middle schooler’s homework workload. However, if students are bringing work home from my class, they aren’t using the time that I give them in class wisely. Ninety-five percent of the time they are provided AMPLE time to complete work in class.
- If students hand in an essay or project four weeks after it’s due, we’ve moved on. The material that was covered isn’t freshly emblazoned in their brain juices. More than likely what they end up handing in doesn’t follow directions, demonstrate mastery, or is low caliber work.
- Keeping track of late work and grading it makes Mrs. Ram Jam even more insane than she already is. My brain has a hard time reshifting to grading assignments from weeks ago, compounding a near palpable increase in my own time anxiety. My students’ lack of time management makes my own time anxiety worse–crazy, right?
- Kids need to be taught accountability and time management skills. Unfinished work needs a consequence.
With all that being said, I’m leaning towards enacting my second-semester policy for the entire school year.
Please feel free to share your late work policies or what your district/school suggests to do and the reasoning behind it. I’m always up for suggestions. And enjoy your last week or two of summer, teachers!