When I first started teaching, I was shocked at the amount of work my students never turned in. I was teaching 120 9th grade students and found that I had about a 60% turn-in rate for most assignments. I didn’t want my students to fail, so I was having to constantly track them down and bug them to turn in work. It was a pretty miserable recipe for disaster. I was always handing out extra copies of assignments, grading late work, and worrying that too many students weren’t passing my class.
Now, I can look back and see the error in my ways. I was actually making it far too easy for students to lose work, procrastinate, and forget about the task at hand.
If you are struggling to get students to turn in work, here is what I recommend:
1). Never, ever, ever tell your students that if they don’t finish something in class, they can finish it as homework. Instead, assign work that can be completed in a period/block and tell them they are turning it in no matter what and you will grade what they turn in. At first, they may not take you seriously, but once you do this a few times, they’ll start hustling to get the work done. The problem with telling kids that if they don’t finish, it’s homework, is that this gives them a reason to not work as hard during class. They really do think they’ll complete the work at home, and maybe a few will, but the majority won’t. I would rather my students turn in work that is nearly complete and get 8/10 points than never turn it in and get a 0/10.
If you find that the majority of your class needs more time on an assignment, don’t assign it as homework. Instead, give them more time during the next class session and then collect it.
2). Students with more than two missing assignments are required to attend Lunch Study Hall in my room until they get those assignments in. Most students do not want to be forced to spend their lunch with me, so they make sure they don’t have too many missing assignments.
3). Make homework super consistent. I usually have one main recurring assignment, such as Article of the Week or Reader’s Notebook entries. Most students get into a routine with this. I’ve made the mistake before of assigning homework on the fly and it doesn’t work. Too many kids need structure and routine.
4). If you’ve followed the steps above, but still have too many missing assignments, get the parents involved. I’ve had some kids who never get into the homework routine and start missing deadlines. Their grade quickly suffers. When this starts to happen, I make a point to make a quick phone call home to explain the situation to the parents. Usually, they are so happy to know how they can help. Many have said, “I always ask him about his homework, but he always says he doesn’t have any! I’m so glad that now I know.” Most of the time, this solves the homework problem.
5). Talk with the student. Certain students need to be held accountable by their teacher. They need to know their teacher is looking out for them and keeping tabs on their progress. I’ve had a few kids change their ways after keeping them after class and having a quick heart-to-heart.
**Those are my tips. What do you do to manage missing assignments?