Figuring out what late policy works in your classroom is a delicate balancing act between student needs, teacher demands, and school policies. A few years ago, I went from a somewhat lenient policy that allowed students to turn in work late at the expense of a letter grade per day to a no late work accepted without a school approved absence policy. It is something that I take a great deal of time to talk about with parents and students during open house and throughout the first marking period. When the second marking period hits, students know that my policy is in full effect and don’t even bother to ask without that yellow excuse slip. But this year, after a professional learning community conversation, I started to question late work policies – what works in the classroom and what doesn’t. Feel free to chime in below in the comments but here were 3 large conclusions that came out of this conversation.
Conclusion #1: Consistency is key.
—-> Set clear expectations for students, parents, and administrators. Call it a CYA thought process but having your late policy outlined in your syllabus and in your classroom prevents any misconceptions by any party. I’ve had parents who try to argue that they weren’t aware of a late policy – this means I bust out the signed parent syllabus form for them to review and then drop mic. Well, maybe not in real life but at least in my head. Keep it simple, to the point, and without a ton of exceptions.
Conclusion #2: Have a built-in contingency policy for unique situations.
—-> Of course, leniency in certain situations is key. For instance, I had a student this year that had brain surgery and was late turning in work – situation understood, late policy took a bit of a hike. We worked out some extended deadlines and the student was successful. Ultimately that is the goal behind policy making and occasionally we need to bend the rules for the benefit of a student.
Conclusion #3: Don’t be afraid to consider other policies.
—-> Through a class conversation (seriously, ask your kids for their opinion!), my students provided some great feedback on my late policy and others. Next, I asked them to design their ideal late work policy. Some recommended a one day late policy that gives 1/2 credit for an assignment, some wanted a 4 day policy that takes 10% off for each day, and others suggested a letter grade per late day. When asked which policy they would prefer out of their suggestions or my current no late work policy, they were for my policy (and yes, I did tell them to give me complete honesty). They admitted that it kept them more accountable and they procrastinated less knowing that I wouldn’t accept any late work.
No matter which policy you decide to invoke in your class structure, it is beneficial to have a conversation with your colleagues to gain some insight for potential changes – heck, you may find one that you like better!
Let me know what your policy is and if you plan on changing it for the upcoming school year – comment below!