Update: This blog post reflects a view I held mainly because I worked for a principal who discouraged me from taking late work (among other things that are also bad ideas). I strongly advocate for taking students’ work late now. You never know what they’re going through. Not accepting late work, ever, for any reason, is bad teaching and unrealistic.
I want to thank everyone who responded to the poll about late work, and especially those of you who elaborated about your views in the comments on that post. I posted that poll because I’m currently struggling with my own policy, and I needed to hear your thoughts.
Eighty-seven people responded to the poll. Of the respondents, 62% said they take late work at a significant penalty to a grade. I didn’t specify in the poll, and truthfully, the word “significant” could have different meanings to different people. Some of us might consider 10% significant, while others might interpret that to mean 30%. Another 18% of respondents said they take late work at no penalty, while 20% said they take late work only in rare and extenuating circumstances.
Currently, I fall within the 20% who only take late work in rare and extenuating circumstances. What I mean by that is that if a student has a prolonged absence, I have taken work late. If a student had a death in the family, I also take work late. However, other extenuating circumstances arise for which I’ve not taken work. Computers break, files get corrupted, printers don’t work, assignments are “forgotten.” Sometimes teenagers are just teenagers and make poor decisions about managing their time. I do that, too, and I’m old enough to be their mother. Considering all I’m juggling this year, I have had more empathy with flaky reasons for not getting work done than I have in the past. I have been grateful for the fact that my ITMA program does not have hard and fast due dates and that if I have an insane week, I don’t have to worry about the fact that I’m turning in my assignment late. However, I have to admit that there are real-world repercussions for turning in work late.
The poll reflects my own struggle with taking late work, and some of the commenters made really good points. I am not planning to change my policy in late March in the middle of a school year, but I am thinking that for next year, I will take late work at a penalty. I don’t want students to feel it’s OK to turn their work in whenever they can because I will become disorganized, and I will be overburdened. In fact, one of the reasons I decided not to take late work was that I couldn’t keep track of when it was turned in. Of course, that’s stupid because I could just write it down when it’s turned in. I have a make-up work policy in effect, too, and I have a hard time keeping track of how many days it’s been since a student returned. I do it, but it causes no end of frustration on my part.
I would love suggestions for a late work/make-up work system that works.