Sunday, April 7, 2013

Accepting Students' Late Work


I do not accept late work from students. I don't grant extensions and will only accept late work if a student has a provable excuse, otherwise everyone suddenly has car/work/printer/dead-grandparent-for-the-10th-time/sick-goldfish-ran-away-to-Mexico problems. And only on days that assignments are due.

I've also learned that if I don't require students to bring their assignments within the first 5 minutes of class, a good portion (half or more) of the class will trickle in throughout the class because they decide to spend class time working on the assignment they've had weeks to work on.

After the first time they oversleep or have other problems and try to e-mail me their papers (which I also don't accept, by the way) do they realize how serious I am about not accepting late work. I don't have the mental capacity to keep track of whose paper will be handed in when, otherwise. Yet it's still amazing that students will say, "I know you said this, but my kid was in the hospital, as I told you before, and I had come right from the hospital." To which my (probably unkind) response is, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear he's still not feeling well. Could you get a nurse or someone at the hospital to write me a note with verifiable information, or bring in an admittance slip that shows he's still in the hospital? I can provide a fax number if that would help." And I will almost never hear anything in response. Which makes me wonder if the folks are actually trying to use a sick kid as an excuse to hand in late work.

Those who have actual problems will be in touch with me ahead of time, or - as in the case of one student I had - actually be able to provide the necessary information. I have no problems working with students if something comes up - and I try to stress that I absolutely know that sometimes things actually do come up. That if they'd like my cell phone number just in case, I'll be happy to provide that to them, especially if they don't have a smart phone and can't or don't want to e-mail me.

I don't accept late work because I need to be able to move on to the next assignment. I don't have the mental capabilities to keep track of who handed in which assignment when. And not for nothing, but If I don't have a strict deadline, students will hand in all their work on the last day of class, which is a nightmare for both me (because I suddenly have a lot more grading to do at a time when I have grade submittal deadlines) and the students (who have a lot of end-of-semester projects due and can't find time to do it all). I don't want to get chewed out for not submitting my grades on time because a student didn't submit her work on time.

(I will admit that last semester, I thought I had submitted all my grades on time. There was one student whose grade for some reason didn't go through, probably because I skipped it and didn't realize it.)

Many of my students will have jobs and careers that are much more relaxed about deadlines, but many of them won't. My younger students may not have encountered a variety of boss and job types that might include strict deadlines, although my older students probably would have - and I never get a complaint from the older students. Occasionally I'll get an e-mail from a student, after an assignment was due, telling me of a situation, but if that e-mail is from an older student, there almost always an acknowledgement that they know I don't accept late work and would accept the consequences. It's the younger, more inexperienced students who haven't encountered this before.

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