I learned this little technique from the veteran teacher next door and it’s pretty darn effective. We had a major project due last week and of course there were the 10-20% of students that didn’t have it on the due date. My previous response has always been to have a quick discussion with them about getting it to me the next day for points off. Of course they say that it’s going to be there, but often times we can go days and days with the back and forth of, “When is it going to be here?”
What we had those students do instead was pick up a script that we had pre-written and had each of them go out into the hallway with our phone and told them to call home. The script read as follows:
Hi Mom/Dad, this is ______________________. I’m calling you because I had a project due today and I didn’t have it. I have known about the project for 2 weeks and Mr. Kesler gave us a reminder every single day that it was due leading up to today. I currently have a zero as a major grade in his class and am likely failing for the six weeks. Can you help remind me tonight that I have to work on this project. He said that I can turn it in late for 10 points off for every day that it is late. I want to have it here tomorrow.
We had them write their name on the script and the number they called and then gave it to us after the phone call. This was to show that we did in fact have them call home if there were any issues from parents later on. If parents weren’t home they left the script on their voice-mail.
Listen, I’m not in the business of embarrassing a student. I was that student! I’d make up every excuse under the Sun as to why it wasn’t done, and the reality is that teacher’s never held me accountable for it until it was far too late. This is done in a private conversation outside of the classroom. I just want students to know that when we set a date for something that we need to stick to it. Of course there are extenuating circumstances, and I take all of those into consideration.
I believe that by having them call home that they are taking ownership of their own situation. I also feel that as a parent I would want to know immediately if my student was missing a major assignment. This solves both of those issues with one action. Neither of them involve me either.
I have a feeling that if you did this with your students the very early on in the year that it would be far more effective than waiting until February like I have. No technique will combat this problem 100%, but I do think that it will be effective going forward.
Do you have a tip for getting students to turn their work in on time? I would love to hear about it in the comments.