For starters, as an English teacher, I get a tiny thrill from alliterations. It is similar to the feeling I get when I surprise myself with a really good couplet while speaking. I thought of another one … deserted desk diligence … but refrained from including it should my ridiculous title slip from slightly bombastic into inanely annoying.
That being said, and if you are still reading, on to the main event.
I have NEVER been good at keeping up with make-up work … ever. Frankly, I’m not even that good at taking attendance. I teach bell-to-bell. I’m talking with them as they come in the room and the interactions continue continuously until its time to go. Who has time to spend on their computer taking attendance when class is in session?When students are absent, my desk slips slowly into chaos. Plus, teaching 6 different preps, I end up giving a few pretty solid blank stares when they return as I try to recount exactly what it was they missed, what I need to give them, and where those things might be. Then, there is also the fact that they missed discussions which can’t really be recreated, so some of my assignments no longer make sense.
The past two weeks or so have been simply inundated with long lists of absentees. As my grasp on this time-lapse sense of reality slowly slipped further and further away from me, I realized that I needed to follow my own advice and pull myself together.
Many of you, I’m sure, already have some all-star systems in place for dealing with make-up work. A majority of teachers, it seems, have been born with an organizational gene that I overtly lack. Hopefully presenting my new plan in this public form will help keep me accountable to it. Maybe it will even prove helpful to the few of you who, like me, exist in state of ordered-chaos.
Solving the attendance problem: Keep a legal pad on my podium for this explicit purpose and record it at the end of the day. No fancy form needed. The open space will leave me plenty of room for notes should I need them.
Remembering what we did in class beyond handouts: Have a student write it down. How perfect! Students practice their note-taking and responsibility, I am now only doing 50 things at once instead of 51. Here is a form I created to help the student helper out: Make-up Work Notes.
The Paper Work: The same student mentioned above will collect two of everything handed out and staple the absentees copy to the back of the agenda he or she is filling out for him or her.
Getting it to the absentee: They will pick it up from the bin upon their return. The student helper will make sure it gets into the correct folder, they simply need to come and pick it up. That way, if they have questions for me, the basics are already there for us. Here is a glance at what it looks like in the classroom:
Alright, fingers crossed everyone! Let’s hope this is a plan that sticks!