I think I’ve figured out the starkest difference between my students and those who perform better academically.
My students don’t always turn in their assignments.
I’m not talking about little assignments, like classwork. In fact, my students work harder in class than many suburban kids.
No, I’m talking about essays, projects — big assignments.
When I collect AP practice essays every other Thursday, I typically receive 21 or 22 out of 23. There are always one or two excuses, one or two emergencies, one or two instances of things coming up.
Some teachers would call this turn-in rate a success. I don’t. After all, students have several days (and many opportunities of support) to complete their essays. In addition, my students are just a few months away from enrolling in college, and as far as I know, if you don’t turn in assignments in college, you generally don’t pass classes.
I’m really worried that many of my students will receive Fs next year because they haven’t internalized how crucial it is to turn in all their assignments on time.
The problem is, They’ve missed assignments in high school and have gotten by. Their teachers have offered them deals. Some teachers, citing standard-based assessment, don’t give zeroes for missing work.
I understand that things happen and that students need extra chances, particularly in the earlier grades. That’s why our Humanities department last year agreed on a late work policy that becomes more strict from ninth to twelfth grade. (This year, the policy was suspended by the administration.)
Whatever the approach, we need to tell our students how important it is to follow through, to honor their commitments. Life moves forward, and in general, you can’t get on a time machine to correct your past mistakes.