My students who choose to open up know that I care about their overall wellbeing. Talking with "Stella," I learned that she is working extra shifts after school to help out her family after the death of her aunt. Stella turns her work in when she can, sometimes meeting my due dates, but most often not. In the grand scheme of things, "Stella" helping her family is more important than completing my active reading assignment, but I also recognize that there is a fine line between legitimate prioritizing and procrastination-- I have to be very careful that I am not enabling my students' procrastination and reinforcing bad habits that will carry into adulthood.
Trying to strike a balance, I give my students choice: rather than a specific due date, students can choose within a window of dates for turning in specific assignments. Will I take the late assignment even after the window closes? Probably, but not without a sit-down discussion with the student. I really like Shai McGowan's policy of having students including a cover letter with the late assignment:
@KtBkr4 1. Why I should accept it? 2. Why it was late? 3. How will he/she change the situation to make sure it isn't late again? #flipclass
— Shai McGowan (@slm12) January 27, 2015
I may try implementing this next year. Here is the current policy as stated in my class expectations:
- All Paper-Based assignments are due IN CLASS on the specified due date.
- All online assignments are given a 2 day window for turning in the work that is to be submitted via Edmodo. For online assignments ONLY, there is a 2-day window. All online assignments are due by 11:59 pm on the last day of the window period. This two day window allows students to schedule their time accordingly and make adjustments in the event of issues.
Paper-based assignments are due on a specific date because we will be using the assignment as part of a class or group activity. I'm more flexible with online due dates because I most likely will not have time to score it until a few days (or more) after the window closes.
The due date window attempts to encourage students to make choices within a reasonable boundary. For the most, my students are able to complete assignments within the window. When it all comes down to accepting late assignments, the question teachers must ask themselves is, "What is more important: the student be obedient or understanding why the work is late?"