We had a staff meeting yesterday, however, that brought up a subject that may be something that new teachers might be concerned with – accepting late homework.
I had to take a break to blog.
The assistant principal brought up a concern that was coming up in the parent meetings she was having. Some teachers were not accepting late homework, and it was hurting the students’ grades.
According to the philosophy of some teachers, accepting late homework is allowing students to get away with not following class guidelines which can set a bad precedent. They see their tough stance on late homework as a lesson that will teach the student to be more responsible. Some college professors don’t allow any students to turn in their work late, so the lesson will serve them well when they get to the university level.
That’s when one of my colleagues raised her hand and started speaking. Her name is Lee Ann.
She started by saying that she accepts late homework. She’ll give the student a harsh finger wag, and maybe a short lecture on responsibility, but she takes the homework. Then she reminded us, “They’re twelve.”
This hit it right on the head for me.
Although I agree that students need to learn to budget their time and to place value on due dates and be more responsible, they’re twelve. That lesson can come later in life. Right now, the positive effect of a passing grade in Language Arts or History or Science or Math will do more to make that student successful than the lesson they’ll learn about the importance of due dates.
Lee Ann went on and said, “The electric company accepts our payments late. They’ll ding us with extra charges or they’ll even turn off our lights, but if we pay them an extra fee, we’ll get our power back.”
In my class, I always accept late work. I tell the students that they’ll lose some points, because it’s not fair to those other students who worked hard to turn in the work on time, but I’ll take it. I’ll give them a speech about responsibility and how in college, the professors won’t be so nice, but I’ll take it.
I have so many students who would just give up on school if they saw that there was no way to turn the power back on in their grade. I can’t let them fail just to maintain a policy that has little to do with real life.
So all you new teachers out there, when the older teachers on your staff start pressuring you to hold to their “no-late-work” policy, ignore them.
Tell them Sam said so.
So, what do you think about accepting late work?
But if you accept late homework, it makes it impossible to go over the work in class the next day. How do you handle this? Doesn’t the student handing in the homework late have access to all of the answers? Sure they may get a diminished grade, but for all you know they simply copied the answers from their peers corrected/returned work,…and if you go over the homework in class the next day, you’ve just done their late homework for them.
This is a good question. Thank you for the comment. Sorry I didn’t respond earlier. You’re right. You can’t accept late work if you’re going to go over it in class. What I was talking about was accepting work like projects or larger assignments. These are assignments that are very important to the student’s grade, and if I don’t accept it, then although I may be teaching them an important lesson on being responsible, their overall grade will suffer, and it’s not worth it at this age. This brings up a question that maybe I’ll discuss in a future post: What is a good homework assignment? I never give out worksheets from the book, or if I do, I don’t grade it. You can’t be sure if the student did it or if he/she copied the answers before school from a friend. Unless you’re there watching the student do the homework, you can’t be sure if he/she is actually completing the assignments him/herself. The homework I give out is more project-based. The students get the information in class, and then they demonstrate their knowledge in a poem or a poster or a scrapbook or a test or a game board. I have a lot of different kinds of project ideas that students can do to demonstrate that they understand the concepts we learned in class. I don’t put too much weight in the worksheets that come with the text book.
Thanks again for the comment and question.
They’re twelve… very true. Although I teach tenth graders, and not students that young, I still note that it is often not skill mastery or even motivation that keeps students from doing their work on time: it is organizational and time management skills that is the true culprit. And, while we want to educate them to work within deadlines, a no tolerance policy, simply means the work–and the need to find to do it–disappears after a certain deadline: terrible way to resolve the issue, and not at all like real life. Here is how I handle it: http://jessicawiseinmyshoes.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventure-zero-heroes-in-my-new-comic.html
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