Are You the Reason Your Students are Late?
If you had a job interview, would you be late? If you had an important doctor’s appointment, would you leave early to make sure you’re on time? Over and over again I hear teachers unite over one universal complaint: students show up late!
Whether it’s traffic or a family problem, we all hear the same excuses year after year. Yes, some of them are legitimate, but for the most part, it’s the same students who continually disrespect the importance of punctuality.
In my years of teaching I’ve learned one major thing in regards to students showing up late for class, and it’s not easy to hear. It’s not the student’s fault. It’s the teacher’s.
Ask yourself these questions:
■ Are you starting class on time? If you’re not showing time is important to you, then it won’t be to your students. If class starts at 8 a.m., be sure you’re there on time and starting the class at 8 a.m. sharp.
■ What do you cover in the first 5 – 10 minutes? If you’re doing nothing but roll call and waiting for late ones to arrive—you’re not giving your students a reason to be on time. Try giving substance right off the bat. Maybe give hints for an upcoming test, ways they can get extra credit, or details about an upcoming project. Or, if you’re doing group work that day, put them into groups as soon as class starts. Once your students catch on, they’ll make it a point to be there.
■ Are you praising the good or are you harping the bad? Instead of showing how annoyed you are when someone walks in late, show public appreciation for the ones who are there on time. The best way to get consistently good behavior is to reward those who meet your expectations—not punish the ones who don’t.
■ Are you closing with a teaser? Your students may not all be there at the beginning of class, but they are at the end. Be sure to tease tomorrow’s “opener” to give your students another reason to not hit that snooze button the next morning.
The next time you find yourself frustrated with students who can’t tell time as well as you can, be sure to analyze yourself to ensure that you aren’t the problem. We aren’t perfect and if there are ways we can help our students succeed (or even be on time), we should be taking those opportunities. Don’t ever underestimate the power of an educator!