Managing Absences and Missing Work



As I prepare for Back to School season, I like to reflect upon things that have happened in the past and try to address them before they occur. Absences are gonna happen. Students are going to miss work. Parents are going to complain that your grading policy is unfair. This year, I am using Schoology to master this problem that plagues me.

Absence Students

For years I have used absence student folders to manage this monster. I leave it on the student's desk. I watch them put it in their backpack and mysteriously it disappears never to be returned. The parent claims they have never seen it. A week later, I send another one home. Then a month later I send a notice of missing work and you guessed it... another folder. The end of the quarter arrives, the absent assignment was never made up. All attempts to get it have failed and now.... now the parent is mad. The student's grades are effected and they want more time to complete the assignment. It doesn't matter that it happened 6 weeks ago, policy says 48 hours to return it, you have called 3 times and sent the papers home 4 times, or that your grades have already been turned in.... the parent demands more time. UGH!

This year, when I am planning I am using Schoology. Above is a picture from one of my classrooms. When either the parent or the student logs in, they will pick the class they missed and then go to updates. From here, they can go to the day of their absence and see all of their missing work!

When I write my lesson plans for the week, I schedule into the calendar everything that we are doing for that day. I upload any worksheets I created, the discussion questions, interactive notebook pages, and the textbook pages and problems. It is all here. 

I will still use the absence folders and leave them on their desk with all of the handouts for the day. I will still watch them put it into their backpacks. I will still offer to go over it before school, after school, at recess, or during individual conferences. I will still make phone calls and I will still send home notices. However, I will not be accepting late work. This guarantees that everyone has access and there are no excuses.

Late Work

Not all late work derives from absence students. I have had students who have just refused to complete assignments for a variety of reasons. I follow the same format for these students with sending work home and notifying parents as I do for my absent students. This work is more problematic to get. Administration always seems to get involved as a parent usually ends up mad that their child is failing and they demand more. 

This past year I had a student in my classroom whose mother was also a teacher at this same school. For years, he had gotten away with doing nothing. Mom demanded he get a C or better no matter what work he did or didn't do. I failed him. She called in administration and I had to give him more time. 

Needless to say I was very upset. I had done everything right. I even keep an extra copies box in my room in case a student loses a paper. I have a binder of master copies for every assignment given out. I had a different student walk his assignments to his mother for him and yet she still said she never received it. Being as it was two teachers having the issue, I lost on this every time. I never want to go through another year like this. 

Schoology is the perfect answer! The calendar again guarantees everything is available to student and parent. As an added bonus, I can get rid of my master copies binder and my extra copies box saving me copies on the copy machine. Its ridiculous to limit teacher copies but since that is just how things are... I will digress. 

Classroom Policies

In addition to the above, I have also written a classroom policies notice that I am sending home with all students and am requiring it to be signed by both student and parent. This lists out when absent students must turn in work, how long I will wait for a missing assignment, how exceptions will not be made when grades are due, and where to find out what is required every single day of the year. 

Finally... I think I have mastered this monster!

What more information on Schoology? Check out these other great posts (if I do say so myself!). 

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