Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Excuses

Please excuse Student A because he/she had a problem with his/her phone and the alarm on it didn’t go off this morning.  He/she overslept.  Thanks.

I received that note fifteen minutes into class this week from a student who was late.  I have to admit, I smirked and the entire class saw it.  I smirked for a variety of reasons.

1.  This is a class of Seniors.  When I was a Senior in high school there was no way I would have a handwritten note for a specific teacher with an excuse.  First of all, you just don’t do that as a Senior.  Every Senior knows that notes go to the office, and passes go to the teacher.  It makes you look like a rookie.

2.  It’s a class of high level Seniors, which means that barring a serious emergency, I really don’t care why you end up tardy.  By your Senior year, and in a 4 year college level class, absences (again, barring something real serious) hurt the student more than they hurt me.  Most everything is in the form of test and quizzes, so you missing the work is your deal.  It’s only a rare event that I get something like “overslept” that gives me a moment to reflect on how immature “adults” can be.  So in that brief moment I was thinking about the reaction I would have witnessed from my credential advisor at Chico State if I walked into his class late with a note saying, “My phone didn’t go off and I overslept”.  He would have written a note back saying “GTFO”.

3.  Pick’em that the note was forged anyway.  At 18 years old, I wouldn’t have gone to my father for an excuse note at gun point.   

I talked to people in the attendance office this afternoon about my note and they said it was nothing compared to what parents excuse for their kids.  Parents have excused tardies because of coffee breaks, donut runs, students staying up too late, hang-overs, you name it.

Me?  I don’t usually let it bother me.  Students that are chronically late get an attendance contract with the office.  Students that cut five times get an “F”.  In most classes, especially Advanced Placement, the attendance takes care of itself.  Students can’t afford to miss class and do well. Miss one day a week and the possibility of you passing is minimal in college prep, almost impossible in AP.  Since I teach Seniors, this becomes more serious because I spend the first semester warning them, and then I’m quiet for the rest of the year.  Nothing much happens until the third quarter report card (which is about now) when a Senior sees “F” and the possibility of not graduating.  This year I have AP kids that will see “F”, and then the freak out is really going to kick in.  Yeah, AP and skipping out once or twice a week doesn’t work well. 

And don’t even bother with the note. 

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