Students being absent is an unavoidable occurrence. Regardless of if the absence lasts a single afternoon for a dentist appointment or an entire week for a family vacation, you’ll want to have a plan in place so you are not wasting time scrambling around to put together work for them to take home. I suggest developing a policy for make-up work as well as a procedure for handling it. Below are some tips and ideas about how to manage make-up work in the classroom.
- Begin by seeing if your school or district has a policy on absenteeism and missed work. If so you’ll need to adhere to that. If there is not already a policy in place then you’ll need to determine what will work best for you and your classroom.
- Share your policy with families at the start of the school year. We all know that what we do in the classroom can’t be replicated in a packet of worksheets, but parents don’t always understand that. If you don't share your policy proactively, you’ll run the risk of a parent sending in a note that reads, “We’ll be going out of town tomorrow. He’ll be out of school all next week. Can you please send home all his work so he doesn’t fall behind?”
I find it challenging to send work home ahead of time. A lot of what we do in class is based on lessons and activities and not just a self-explainable printable. Also, plans change depending on how quickly students are grasping concepts. Here’s what I do when I know a student will be absent:
- Look at your plans and give the parents a quick summary of the skills, topics and big ideas that will be covered during the absence. It is easy to find resources and interactive games online and the hope is that the parents’ will take the initiative to do so.
- Create a procedure for collecting work when a student is absent. I have a literature sorter in my classroom that I use for unfinished work. I also use this to collect assignments when students are out. I place an absent student folder in their box and as work gets passed out throughout the day, a student puts a copy on top of the folder. At the end of the day I staple them all together with a “While You Were Out Note” and slip them into the folder. You could also leave a folder on the student’s desk or in his mailbox.
- When a folder is prepared for a student, I record the date onto a tracking sheet. When it is returned completed I highlight the date.
I have created a packet to help organize and manage student make-up work in the classroom. It includes notes to send home when you know in advance that a student will be absent, materials to make "While You Were Out Folders" and tracking sheets to keep records on assignment completion.
While You Were Gone
At the end of the day, I write the items that need to be completed and returned. The student takes the folder home the next day (or whichever day he returns), and completes the work within 3 days. So far, it has worked out nicely.
(and please ignore the fact that this student missed every problem on his math homework. We are working on it ;) )
How do you deal with absent students and missed work?