Day 51/180: making sure they actually catch up
Recently, I saw a question regarding advice for new teachers and/or things experienced teachers didn’t know going into the practice. While I’ve learned a lot over nearly 10 years’ time, I couldn’t think of something in particular that others hadn’t already covered. Today, while going through the grade book, I found it: you’re going to have to chase them down.
There’s kinda two philosophies as far as assignments go (if there are required assignments in class): either students do the work and get credit (or don’t and fall behind); or students have every opportunity to do all of the work at nearly any time. To me, the former is a waste. The kids who miss one major assignment and then give up will either drop the class with a failing grade, or be forced to continue even though they’re already lost. There are some kids, especially in lower grades, who just can’t keep track of assignments and due dates and texts and backpacks, or who don’t have a good place to practice at home. It’s sure easier for the teacher to not accept in excused late work, especially grading-wise. The latter option is hard on teachers with a ton of extra grading and assignments and trying to keep up with the fast kids while maintaining the slower ones. Some kids may just be perpetually behind, and when the semester comes, they (and their grades) get cut off.
So what do you do, as a responsible teacher? Just let them go, or get them to do work by following them, sending emails and phone calls home, contacting counselors and parents, and keeping the kid and everyone immediately around them in the loop?
And where’s the right balance?