Dealing with Absentees

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ms.irene, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I would love to hear any and all suggestions for the age-old question: How do you deal with absentee students? As in, keeping track of what was missed, handouts, notes, group work done that day...? Last year I felt my approach was too haphazard, with the responsibility *supposedly* falling on the student to see me to get a list of missed assignments (printed out from the online gradebook), get handouts from the extra copy bin, schedule missed tests/quizzes, explain missed projects, and so on...

    What ended up happening more often than not was that students wouldn't come see me, or would say they would and then not show up at the scheduled time, and would not know what was going on in class. :dizzy:

    Does anyone have a clear-cut way to plan for and organize absentee make-up work? I teach both Jr. High and HS so ideas that work for both are especially appreciated!
     
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  3. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    If you're looking for a way that gets all absentee students to actually be responsible for getting their work in, I don't really have one.

    But what I do is put up my lesson planning Google Calendar on my website. I have all worksheets linked there and students who are absent can see what they missed on which days.

    I also have an analog version of that in my class, with a file rack that has folders from Monday to Friday. Depending on the day they missed they are responsible for grabbing the worksheets from the folder for that day and completing them.

    If they didn't come talk to me, or didn't check for their assignments and didn't know what was going on, that was their fault and they had to figure it out. I'd keep them accountable by sending home weekly reports for missing assignments (which I did for all of my students), so if they parents got a report in which they were missing a lot of assignments, they would remind the kid to get the work or complete it.

    I try to make my worksheets and projects as self-explanatory as possible so students should be able to complete them just by reading the directions on them. The students were also okay with asking their friends about what they should do.

    But mostly, if a student or their parents cared about their grade, they would come see me, because they would know those missing assignments would eventually show up in their parents email inbox.
     
  4. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Last year I put folders on my one closet door. I labeled them by period. When a kid was absent, I put his/her name on any handouts I had. I got "While you were out" cards made at VP and filled one of those out. It clearly said what we did, what needed to be turned in, and what they needed to make up. I paper clipped it all together and stuck it in the folder with their names on it. If I had multiple kids absent from the same course, I copied the card instead of writing it again. Most days I only had 1-2 kids absent since my class sizes are so small.

    I would mark things as missing in our grade system so they could see what they needed to make up. I sent them to homework intervention as necessary.
     
  5. MsDouglas

    MsDouglas Rookie

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    I use a variation of the above mentioned systems. I have a folder for each day of the six weeks. When I pass out papers in class, the extras go in the folder for that day. When a student returns from an absence, I direct them to the folders first. Then the student can come talk to me. I have a problem with students loosing their papers, so I normally make a couple extras for the folder. If the papers aren't in the "While You Were Out" folders, I have an agenda and file documents on my class website.

    This is by no means perfect. I still have students who don't pick up their work. However, I clearly state in my class rules, which is signed by student and parent, that absent students are responsible for picking up their work from these folders. I clear the folders out at the end of each six weeks.
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I put it on the students. Too much to keep up with otherwise.

    If I remember specifics, I'll remind the students. I consider that a gift.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I think it's good to have it available (a bin / box, etc with all the hand outs, home work assignment, basically everything left over from that class), but the student must take the initiative to seek out the information.
    The older they get, the more capable they are, and in high school. you do not have to go after the student to get his work made up, even in middle school.
    Look at it like this: let's say you have 6 classes, 30 students in each, that's 180 students to keep in mind. The student has 6 teachers, 6 classes to keep in mind and find out what they missed.
     
  8. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Thank you for all the great ideas! I think in all honesty I spent too much of my own time and energy on this last year because I didn't have a clear system and ended up chasing kids down and reminding them about stuff too often. I plan on setting up absentee folders for each class and having designated office hours for make-up tests, and I think this will cut down on a lot of the run-around.
     
  9. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Have a plan for who has access to those handouts. At my school teachers have very limited copy allottments. Way back when I did have folders accessible to students with extra copies, they disappeared like crazy. Some students would rather grab another blank one and fill in answers than dig in their backpacks to find the one I gave them before. Students would leave theirs at home and grab an extra. I would often run out before each absent student had a chance to get theirs.

    I simply am not going to write down names on blank sheets for those that are absent each day. I am not going to assign secretaries in my class to do that for me.

    Making the students responsible works well enough for me. I have some students that choose not to carry their load, but that happens even when students are present too.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm going to do a modified version of this plan this year.

    In the past, I've left it up to the students. In theory that should be good enough, but in practice it doesn't work for me. Students just wait until the last day of the quarter, well after we've moved on, after I no longer remember what we did that one day seven weeks ago, and well after any extra copies are long gone. Because of certain policies set up by admin, I basically have to allow this sort of lazy, procrastinate-y behavior. I think that something easy for me--like keeping a binder with a brief description of each day's activities, assignments, collected work, and quizzes--would solve a lot of my problems and take a lot of pressure of me.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Interesting. How would you solve the problem of them not coming to check with you for the materials though?
     
  12. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    If I glance at the folder and there's something in there, I just say "hey, bobby, go get your stuff you missed".
     
  13. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    see, that makes it difficult. Our district policy specifically addresses make-up work. Teachers are to set "reasonable" due dates, with the general guideline of three days per day absent. After three days we do not have to accept assignments.

    We are to post our lesson plans in our rooms so that does give a student a bit of direction.
     
  14. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I pretty much give up on it. I keep a very complete class website will all materials and a full agenda. I send email updates/announcements. I email home. Grade reports are sent weekly, and the assignments are linked by number to a folder on the website.

    Extra copies are always available in a set location. I've even put together packets for the chronic absentees and had parents pick the stuff up (I teach high school seniors). I keep counselors in the loop. I've tried detentions for lots of missing work.

    I make it all as clear and easy as possible, so it's on them. The kids who are going to make up the work make up the work. The other kids aren't going to do it no matter what I do, so I save my energy and don't chase after them. The resources are there, and I'm there, ready to help.

    Reading that, it sounds kind of cold, but it's just not a good use of my time. We have a pretty big absentee problem at my school. Part of the problem is we have to accept work for full credit whenever a kid gets around to turning stuff in, so there is no urgency which mostly means they pretend that class didn't happen on the days they were out.

    I wish I had a magic wand to help motivate, but I focus on the ones I have succeeded with. Last year, 5 of my at risk kids got caught up, passed their state exam, and graduated.
     
  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I meant in Caesar's version if she's just using a binder to keep track of the lessons, materials, etc. Unless she has a section for each student in the binder who was absent?
     
  16. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I like the idea of jotting absent students' names down on the extra copies -- perhaps a couple of reliable, seldom-absent students could be assigned this job? I also hope to make more use of student jobs this year, something I used to do when I taught just Jr. High and that I think HS students would enjoy, too.

    This whole thread is also bringing up another timeless question about accepting late work -- I think I will start a new thread though since it is a separate issue (not just for absentees).
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It doesn't. It solves the problem of me not being organized enough when, months after the absence, a student comes to me because his coach and/or parent is on him for missing work.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oh, we have official policies on absences and late work, too. The problem is that admin doesn't enforce any of those policies. They justify it by saying that they are giving students "multiple opportunities to succeed". Really, they are just giving them multiple opportunities to not do anything until the last possible minute. Sometimes even then, even after final grades have been processed and issued, we teachers have been directed to accept additional work or offer make-ups and retakes. I myself was asked to allow a student to retake the final exam a month after it was originally taken--because the student's mother was unhappy with the student's B! It is unbelievable, really. I just have to find a way to work within all that mess.
     
  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Ah okay. I understand now.
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I guess I forgot that I do something that does address this. Every two weeks or so, I print out a batch of missing assignment slips from my gradebook. My gradebook has this report, so it's just a one-click thing. Looks a little like this:

    Jenny B.
    *P. 103 Ex. A
    *Numerals Quiz

    Marcus F.
    *Numerals Quiz
    *Domus project
    *Roma et Italia translation


    And then I just cut them into strips for individual students and hand them out. So even if a student never checked his or her posted grade in the classroom, never checked his or her grade via the online portal, never checked the absent work binder, and never checked in with me, he or she would still be notified, in writing, about missing work at least once every two weeks.

    There really is no excuse in my class for not having your work turned in. Still, it's a battle I fight every year. It's exhausting.
     
  21. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Caesar, do you have to give the same exact work to the students to make up?

    I had a parent scream for an "extra opportunity to show mastery" once. She felt that her son's choice not to take the test he was given should have indicated to me that he was not prepared (uh, it did) and that he should get a second chance at it. Unfortunately our school didn't have the strongest leader the time and I was asked to comply. But we don't have to give the same assessment for make-ups or retakes. Just as long as the same standards are covered. So his peeking at the test ahead of time gave him no advantage. And the second test was probably harder in his mind (free response versus multiple choice).
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    No, I do not, which is how I have kept myself sane with these ridiculous requests.
     
  23. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Caesar, from your posts you come off as a very organized person, so if you are struggling with this, I am sure almost everyone does! It is always a relief to hear I'm not the only one with some of these issues.
     
  24. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Very cool. I do something similar, but our reporting system only lets us print full pages. I can try to fit multiple students per page but that only goes so far until it's unreadable. >_<
     

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