Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ready?

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It was my last day of prep before the kids started the campus invasion tomorrow.

Every year I go into my classroom on the Sunday before students start just to make sure that any little things I might have missed are complete.  While we try so hard to prep for subject matter, sometimes we miss the little things until the students are already sitting there in front of you.  So I made sure that the pencils were sharpened, the grade book (yes I do both a grade book and the computer) had paper in it, and that any other issues that might hinder my first day were taken care of.  I even made a little check of my laptop/smart board to make sure that I could boot it up quick if I needed to.  The entire thing took about 90 seconds, which is fine when things are flowing ok, but could be an eternity when students become impatient.

I'm also ready to implement my new attendance policy.  I've found that in recent years, the one thing that has created the worst amount of friction between myself and students was attendance.  I'd nail kids for being 30 seconds late and they ended up in the office with contracts that pulled them out of class for often down the road.  Then parents or the kids themselves (18 year olds sign out) would sign "excused" and the whole exercise became exasperating.  Was it really worth 30 seconds?  So I'm changing the policy to this:

-Students will be marked tardy, but with no penalty.  Tardies will be marked until roll is taken or 10 minutes.  It is then a cut.

-Quizzes will be done the moment class begins.  Students are not allowed to make up quizzes if they are tardy.

-Students are are habitually tardy will be warned and then consequences will be taken later.

-Cuts will be handled normally.

-Students that come in tardy must do so quietly and they must get right on task. Failure to do so will result in ejection from the classroom for being a distraction.

I know, it seems lenient and almost uncontrollable.  However, realize that the main point of the policy is actually keeping the kids on the classroom longer, since attendance contracts require them to miss my class, usually for the entire period.  Why make a minute of tardiness worth 50 of instruction?  Add to that the alienation of students being yanked out of class, especially when they WANT to be in there, and you have the makings of my new plan.  It was a student in first period of last year that wrote a lengthy paragraph on my report card about the instructor seeming to want to be too much in control in regards of the tardy policy, and that it detracted from an otherwise good class.  I think he had a point, and that while we could set parameters up the ying-yang, kids needed to be held accountable in a way that impacted them more realistically.  Tardies were just being excused by parents, so pursing the avenue of discipline was not a productive use of my time.  Then comes the argument that we are "preparing them for the real world".  I would argue that what I do might better prepare them than setting an unenforceable rule.  You don't get sent to detention when you are late to work, you get docked pay (or a quiz if you don't make it).  And get this, more and more jobs are seeking employees that set their own hours, but get the tasks down with quality and in a set time.  Sounds like preparing them to me.  

So the year starts in 12 hours, and the butterflies are there, as is the anticipation, as is the concern, and everything else that goes through the mind on the day before. 

   

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