How do you handle illegitimate absences in your classes?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by onestepcloser, Sep 11, 2010.

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  1. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

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    Sep 11, 2010

    Hi everyone,

    I'm curious as to how you personally handle non-valid absences in your classroom.

    While I reiterate that if a student is absent they need a note explaining their absence and that it is their responsibility to get caught up on the work, etc. I am uncertain how to handle it sometimes. For example, school started this past week for students and I have a student who skipped the first 3 days of class (she'd skipped, not been sick, etc.). She showed up on Day 4 and I gave her the material she had missed, but obviously the class has to move on and I can't reteach her the material in class. Also, she hadn't approached me about the work, I had told her I would give her what she missed. If a student doesn't bother asking you or a friend about the work, do you approach them about it?

    I'd love to hear what you do as a teacher. Thank you in advance. :)
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    "Illegal absences"-- say, being spotted by the dean on TV as she watches the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade-- are disciplinary issues. (And, yes, the deans catch kids cutting school every single year simply by watching the parade during their free periods.)

    For me as a classroom teacher, it doesn't matter why the kid was absent. He or she is responsible within a reasonable time for the material he or she missed. I don't ask why they were out.

    In math, that normally means one or 2 extra help sessions after school, at my convenience.
     
  4. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    If you cut you get a 0 for the day. Any work done/test missed just become a 0. They're welcome to get the work from me and do it but not get credit for it (the theory being that they'll be tested on the work so at least need to have it). But if you're cutting you just get 0s whether you make up the work or not. If you continue to fall behind and are confused you're welcome to come after school or before school when I'm available.

    This is school wide policy at my school. I had a student go from an 88% to an 83% when he was dumb enough to cut on the day of a large value test. I even checked with the assistant principal to be sure giving him the 0 was fine and he said "Absolutely, he shouldn't be cutting and now he'll pay the price for it." I'm sure the kid thought he'd get to take the test the following day. Nope.

    Oh, and as far as getting them missed work, in general they have to come to me. Once in a while I'll approach them, but the official rule is that it is THEIR responsibility and not mine. When they complain about a 0 for a missed assignment and say "But I was absent for that, you never told me!" I just remind them of that policy. And again, this is school wide and in their hand book. I'm not saying I never approach students with the missed work, but I don't make sure I do it.

    I also have a place in the room that lists any assignments done so that both absent students can see it, and those who tend to fall behind for other reasons. That way the whole class knows what they should have completed.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I don't even approach my middle school students who were absent. I keep a system of file folders in the classroom with missed work and it is their responsibility to get check that and my agenda and, if they need clarification, see me. I have too many students and responsibilities to coddle them, and I don't feel that would be in their best interest anyhow. As far as students skipping or missing too many days for no good reason, I don't bother with it any longer. My first couple of years I tried to make contact with home and talk to the office and I got burned...so I threw my hands up and realized that was something I wasn't going to get anywhere with with anyone. Very sad and annoying, but the reality in my school.
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

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    I'm the same way. If the absence is unexcused, then you get a zero for any missed work. If a tardy is unexcused, you get a zero for anything you missed then too. Unless I am told otherwise. I have had principals tell me that an absence is unexcused but the students are allowed to make up work. Ok, it is their call. But I am not personally going to stay after school an extra day just for them because the waves were great the day I taught it in class. Your better plans don't trump my better plans. If you are on vacation with your family I am happy for you. If you get it excused from the principal I am happy for you. But you know what chapter we're in. Read through it several times while you're on your trip. Then come see me during my regularly scheduled tutorial time. And take the test within a week of your return. YOUR job to come ask me for missed stuff, not mine to track you down.

    I also have a place in my room with listed assignments. Students have been taught from day one to check the notebook and see what they've missed. If they're absent, if they leave early or if they arrive late. It isn't fair to my other students if they keep stopping me to ask about this or that.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    If the administration KNOWS the absence was illegal, the kid gets nothing. No makeup tests, (zeros instead), no notes ahead of time to do on the plane, nothing. But that's not my call as teacher; we'll get a memo.

    Otherwise, if a kid comes to me for extra help, I'll give it whether I teach the kid or not. I don't ask or care why you need extra help. Occupational hazard.
     
  8. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

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    Sep 11, 2010

    Thank you everyone!

    So if a student is illegally absent, it is absolutely okay if I adhere to my "It's their responsibility to see me about the work and catch up" policy, right? I will gladly provide extra help but I don't feel like I should have to re-teach whole lessons because someone chose to skip my class. And yes, missed tests = 0 automatically if they just skip it.

    I mean, I had a student who skipped the first few days, but I know she was around because I saw her around the building :rolleyes:

    Aliceacc, I love what you said about your dean catching people skipping on TV! Oh boy, lol.
     
  9. 2ndTimeAround

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    Oh, don't get me wrong - I'll help them. They might have been confused on a subject if they were there too. But I'm not going to stay after for an extra day or make arrangements to come in early because you need even more help since you were gone. For instance, we might do a lab on the day they are gone. I think the lab has value else I wouldn't do it. But I'm not always able to repeat a lab for students that are absent. I am more likely to find an alternate assignment or stay after an extra day for someone to make it up if it was an excused absence. But if Johnny wanted to catch some waves on the first pretty Spring day I don't feel obligated to stay late on a pretty Spring afternoon so he can do it too.

    But I can be a hardbutt about things like that. I spent sooo many hours at school last year and I'm just not willing to do it again this year. I have a child at home waiting for me to get there and way too many other obligations for me to give up my extra time due to laziness or truancy.

    Just this last week I had a student tell me that they were going to be fifty minutes late to tutorial. Umm, tutorial lasts an hour. If no one shows by four and I don't have other work to do, I'm gone.
     
  10. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Our school has an excessive absence policy, miss 12 days in a semester and you fail that semester (unless you provide a medical excuse for absences). This drives me crazy when a student at the end of a semester will bring medical excuses for absences that occurred weeks or months before.

    That being said, one thing that annoys me is students hovering or me before the bell to ask what they missed. I am usually clearing out the last class materials and trying to set up for next one (different science subjects). I encourage students at the beginning of the year to see me as their last resort for "what did I miss?" information.
    Students who miss class due to absence are responsible for getting the materials/notes they missed. Each class was given a different color folder to put in their class binders (for work they need to turn in). I have a set of those folders next to the door and extra copies of any papers go in there, newest in front. Find out from a friend or the aid if there were any notes, then arrange to get a copy.

    Also, being absent from class does not excuse the student from writing a journal entry for that day. They are supposed to write about the steps they took to get caught up.
     
  11. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Sep 11, 2010

    Same here.
     
  12. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    We don't have the excessive absence policy (wish we did) but if a student is absent, they have 72 hours to have it cleared by a parent so that it's an excused absence. Otherwise, they're truant for that day, and can't make up any tests they might have missed. Six truant days (or ten tardies) from any class, and you can be drop/failed from the class.

    This year I've instituted a daily log for my senior classes. I'm using a three-subject spiral that has pockets in the dividers. Every day one student keeps the log, and that's part of their class participation grade. They take notes on what happened in class and put copies of the handouts in the pockets for absent students. I'm training my kids to check there right away when they return from being absent.
     
  13. SciTeacherNY

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    We have a school policy. If you are caught cutting, you get a zero. If it is an "illegal absence" (ie the parent called the student out sick, but they are really in Florida), I let them make up the work. I mean if the student is 15, it is not like they planned the trip.
     
  14. 2ndTimeAround

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    yeah, I had a student tell me they were going to be out an extra day for Labor Day due to a family reunion. Not her fault and one day missed isn't a biggie.
     
  15. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Especially if the student is on top of a float lip syncing to a Wayne Newton song.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Ummm, Sarge???

    You're watching the wrong parade.

    St. Patricks in NYC is far more likely to be The Unicorn or McNamara's Band than Wayne Newton.

    You're thinking the Vegas parade.
     
  17. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    I think Sarge is talking about the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" :)
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sorry, I just got back from a wake; my mind is elsewhere tonight. I totally missed the reference:blush:
     
  19. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    When I taught secondary I was very liberal about accepting late work. There was a significant grade penalty (unless the student was out sick on turn in day) but I almost always accepted it.

    In my view, if the student went to the trouble to actually get the make up work done, then the absence was probably in some way legit or beyond the student's control. I NEVER had students cut my class and then go and turn in the missed work - that just didn't happen. In fact, if a kid was truant from my class, the most likely scenario was that they were already flunking because they didn't give a rat's behind and their truancy was just an indicator of that fact.

    The year I taught high school, the faculty took a vote on whether or not to have a policy that mandated an automatic F if the student had 15 or more unexcused absences. There was only one vote against it - mine. I had major problems with a policy that required me to give a grade to a student that was different from what their grade was according to actual scores from tests and assignments. After the meeting, I went and looked at my grade book. Every student who had more than 15 unexcused absences was already failing my class for work they had not turned in and tests they had failed. I'm not sure how other teachers were teaching their classes, but in mine you actually had to attend in order to learn the material and be able to do the assignments and pass the tests. It was not a correspondence course where you could pick up a packet of worksheets on Monday and turn it in on Friday.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Excellent point Sarge.

    The "missing 15 classes" thing just doesn't happen in my school for the most part, not unless a kid is seriously ill-- and that's not what we're talking about.

    But you're right. The kids who are absent excessively-- just about always with their parents permission-- are already failing my class.It's not as though you can sit at home, read a math book and actually figure out any math from what you've read.

    Excessive absences, minus real medical cause, are dealt with by Saturday Detention in my school. A kid will come in for 3 hours and make up the work the teachers have left.

    What boggles my mind is that we have some kids who have been there multiple times. Remember, these parents are paying $7,500 a year for the kids to attend my school. There's simply no way I as a parent would throw that much money away.
     
  21. 2ndTimeAround

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    I go back and forth about the excessive absences automatically mean failing. I've had teachers say the same thing to me - that if they miss that many days they are failing anyhow. If they aren't then it is a direct reflection on their teaching. As if the students were not able to do the learning without the teacher.

    I teach by the state's standards. I add in material here and there but if you know those five goals inside and out you will get an A in my class. That information is readily available on the internet and in the textbook. A smart student could learn it all on his own. I would hope that if he was in my class learning it would be easier. But I do not expect it to be impossible.

    When I was overseas in the DODDS system I often missed weeks at a time. In one six week grading period I missed three weeks. I still maintained straight A's. When I returned to the states I found that I was light years ahead of my classmates so I don't believe the schools over there were dumbed down. We did have to get teacher's permission before we went away and it was expected for students to sightsee here and there so teachers did have work for the next few weeks ready. Our classes were year long then so missing one week waslike missing two and a half days now.

    The big difference I see is the entitlement attitudes. When I was younger it was expected that makeup work would be done as you travelled and turned in the day of your return. It wasn't the teacher's job to reteach what you missed. If you couldn't get it on your own, you took the hit. Now when students miss it falls on the teacher. I went to Disney and had a great time while you stayed here and worked. Now it is your job to work even more hours and catch me up on what I missed. I don't mind helping a student figure out a tricky part. But I am not going slide by slide through a presentation they missed. They can copy those from my binder and study extra hard.
     
  22. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    We have a set policy for unexcused absences - 0 credit. They can make-up the work all they want, but until they bring in a note from home, it won't count.

    I have a binder with all make-up work for them to pick up. It's up to the kids to get their work. If they need to get caught up, they have to stay after school with me for tutoring or get with a friend after school. I just don't have the time during class to catch them up.

    Absences - even excused ones - were a serious problem last year, with quite a few kids missing 25 or more days of school (and not being placed on homebound status). We're still working on ways to make the kids (and their parents) more accountable for days missed.
     
  23. Shanoo

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    My school district has a policy that grades should reflect learning, not behaviour. Therefore, we are expected to accept late work with no penalty. If a kid misses something in September and gives it to me in June, I'm expected to mark it at full credit.

    It can be quite annoying, especially when you know the kid is skipping. I had a student last year who skipped the first day of our two-part final exam. I was told by my administration that I had to let him write the first part as well, even though we all knew he skipped.

    To get around that (sort of), I put all responsibility on the student. My students know that work missed will be on my website and they can always come and see me. If I know the student was absent with good reason, I will be a little more "helpful" in making sure they have what they need (like reminding them they missed a test and setting up an appointment for a make-up test immediately). If they skipped, it's completely up to them. If they forget, too bad. I can't mark for full credit what I haven't received.
     
  24. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    As a teacher, I never dealt much with WHY a student was absent. Quite frankly, I didn't care. Unless I received a communication from the administration, all my students knew to go look in the binders on my desk, or go ask their friends for notes (I kept my teaching notes available for students to copy on their free time). Sometimes I would get memos from the office directing me to put together so many days of work for a student who was ill or was suspended (we partnered with a community organization, so even when a student was suspended, they still had to report, even though it was off campus).

    As far as extra help was concerned, I was nearly always available during lunch, but I went straight from school to my job at a local community college. Many of the parents of my middle schoolers were students at the college, and I'd frequently see those middle schoolers show up with their parents. If I had some down time, I'd help those kids that showed up. It got to where some of my middle schoolers would show up at the college regardless of whether or not their parents were students. No matter, if I had time between my obligations to the college, I'd help.

    From a student's perspective: In high school, I was that kid we all hate. I was at a boarding school, so had to be a bit more independent than most kids. Well, I hated class, and would rarely show up. I always made sure I knew what was going on, and magically appeared on test days and the days projects were due. It frustrated many of my teachers, because I still managed to pull of straight A's. I was there just enough to be able to keep up with what was due and when, and my 10th grade English teacher always lamented that I had an uncanny ability to show up on pop quiz day :lol:. The only classes I actually went to were my math classes, and that probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was being bussed to a local university, as I had taken AP Calc in 9th grade, so I had to take SOMETHING to get three years of math in so I could graduate.
     
  25. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    This would annoy me as well. I changed my policy about accepting late work after I returned an assignment and then witnessed a student copying so he could turn it in for credit. Students are going to "collaborate" on their homework, but there is absolutely no learning going on in this instance.
     
  26. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Our grading policy is changing and may soon have a different grade for a missed assignment rather than the 0% earned. We're very Case Against Zero here, but because we have a heavily transient population (we're talking two or more moves in a school year for many students), we have to be flexible. Thankfully, we have an entire team who handles truancy and another who handles those who attend (read that as log into the school system) but don't participate (read that as haven't turned in a lick of work).
     
  27. love2help

    love2help Rookie

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    I throw them to the wolves in my storage room!!!!
     
  28. 2ndTimeAround

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    I don't understand "no zero" policies. I believe with all my being that such policies are what led to the absolute apathy and poor work ethic that this nation is seeing today. Sure we'll give you credit for homework you didn't do. Sure, we'll stay after work for hours and miss out on our own kids' lives just so we can help you finish work you should have finished months ago. Sure, we'll continue to give you a paycheck even though you don't show up for work half the time. Sure, we'll let you stay at home for months on end while we pay for your housing, medical care and food. We realize that you'd only bring home an additional twenty dollars a week if you went to work so go ahead and stay home - we'll pick up the tab.

    It really bothers me when business owners I know complain about lack of good help. Of course these twenty-somethings are going to be horrible at work - they've been trained to do as little as possible in order to get their reward. If we settle for less they sure will too.
     
  29. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Has anyone else heard of a trend away from counting any work done outside the classroom at all?

    The reason is that it's so easy to cheat on homework nowadays using the internet. And in primary grades there's a growing problem with parents doing the kids homework for them.
     
  30. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I never evaluate work done entirely at home. At the level I teach, longer assignments usually require some time commitment outside of class, but the bulk of the work is done in class so that I have a clear picture of the student's understanding of the concepts.
     
  31. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I Do Not Like homework in the lower elementary grades. That's a whole different thread, so I won't go into it. As far as grading work done outside of class, I only graded for completion to begin with, so it wasn't an issue. I've explained my approach to homework many times before, so I won't bore you with the details again. :)

    For larger projects that did require outside time, I feel the same as MrsC.
     
  32. 2ndTimeAround

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    I have heard some teachers say they do not grade homework or that they require projects to be completed during class time. I'm not sure how that would work with me and my scheduling. I need and expect kids to do work outside of class. I'm also afraid that if I don't instill the need for THEM to do it they won't be trained by the time they get to college. I'm off to read or re-read the posts on this subject. It is getting more and more interesting to me.
     
  33. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I do grade homework for completeness (that's probably not a word-- what's the word I'm looking for???). It doesn't have to be correct, just done. Math homework is your opportunity to figure out whether or not you understand the material.

    But I do allow 3 homework makeups per marking period. Sometimes life gets in the way of school. Beyond 3, they're gone for ever.
     
  34. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I'll give you my view on this as an administrator. If a student is missing a lot class, the office is probably aware of it. However, if you don't think they are or you need clarification as to the absences please ask. Often times, however, I'm not at liberty to tell the teachers why students are absent, so you must keep that in mind. Also, never harass students about being absent. Do not ask them why they are absent in front of the class, don't ask the class where the student is, and don't make comments in front of the class as to why they are absent. If needed talk to them in private about the problem.

    In my school, makeup work isn't denied unless the students are caught skipping. I would be livid if a teacher, gave a student a zero, simply because they were absent from their class.
     
  35. onestepcloser

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    Are you in Ontario? If so, the assessment/evaluation policy has changed and the new Growing Success document states that teachers can deduct late marks at the teacher's discretion (though it does state that "reasonable efforts" to ensure the student hands in the work on time should be made prior to this). I think this is a good change!
     
  36. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

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    Thank you for the insights everyone!

    What do you think of this:

    My feelings are that if students skip class, I'll still accept missed work, but that it is their responsibility to find out what they missed and get the work from a classmate or from me. Should I be expected to approach the student each time with a package of what they missed? Brendan, would love your insight on that. I personally do not think so if the absence(s) are illegitimate.

    Also, I have a question about re-teaching concepts. For example, one of my classes is English. We read stories in class, go through concepts in class, etc. If a student skips my class, I can't re-teach whole lessons to that student. Unless the student makes the effort to seek extra help from me after school/during my extra help hours, I should not be expected to feel i have to reteach the lessons to them, right? I am okay just giving them what they missed if they approach me for it?
     
  37. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    There are two separate issues here:
    - academic grade to signify mastery of material. It has absolutely nothing to do with attendance. Unless, of course, it's somehow possible to do well in your class without being there.

    - disciplinary penalty for an illegal absence. In my building, that's the job of the dean, not the classroom teacher.

    And, as a math teacher, I find myself reteaching material in extra help all the time. But I won't even start unless the kid has all the notes, whether he was in class or out, legally or not.
     
  38. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Godel would dissagree with you!
     
  39. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It just sounded wrong!
     
  40. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Sep 12, 2010

    lol..the first thing that came to mind when I read that was Godel's incompleteness theorem. It could be, though, that the book I'm reading right now is "The Loss of Certainty", by Morris Kline, which is all about the incompleteness theorem and it's effects on modern mathematics.

    Okay, :hijack: over.
     
  41. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Sep 12, 2010

    I'm in Manitoba, however, our Minister of Education has stated recently that she will be looking at the unwritten policy of not being able to deduct marks for late assignments. I'll be interested to see what comes of it.

    In terms of reteaching the lesson, I think it depends. Depending on the level you teach, I certainly wouldn't be chasing the kid. I teach Grade 9. At 14, they should be old enough to know they need to come and see me if they miss class. If the student makes the effort to get extra help from me at lunch or after school, I'll certainly give it to him/her (including going over whatever content was missed). I tell my kids at the beginning of the year that I have 60+ students that I'm responsible for and that I will not remember who missed what. I'll help them get caught up if they miss, but it needs to be THEIR responsibility.
     
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