If you teach as many students as I do, or even if you don’t, the chances that every student will be in school on any given day are slim to none.
Part of every teacher’s job is figuring out how to deal with this reality. We have to plan for absences. This year I have around 140 AP Literature students, mostly high achieving students who are involved in many other school activities. These activities, as you might imagine, cause students to miss class. So do dentist appointments, driver’s license renewals, job interviews, and college visits.
Oh, and sometimes students even get sick.
As with most classroom management issues, addressing the issue of work or information missed due to absence does not come naturally to me. I prefer to live in my head, concocting lessons and grappling with literature. I have to be deliberate in my pursuit of organization.
I’ve mentioned how last year I created the extra handouts binder for students to grab any papers they missed without taking valuable class time. I plan to keep this going this year . . . as soon as I get it set up.
Here’s a new idea I’m trying: a very simple class blog that lists what we did that day, what handouts I gave, announcements made, reminders, etc.
Students can (read “should” or even “will”) subscribe to this blog so that every time I update it, they can get an email. I have also connected it to a class Twitter account for students who want to receive updates that way.
I then hung signs around the room in strategic locations that look like this:
I created a QR code for students with smart phones and tablets and then included the web address at the bottom of the page for anyone without that technology.
Here’s one on the other side of the room:
Keeping this electronic record is a bit scary for me. Can I actually commit to doing this every day? So far, so good. My strategy is to keep it simple: just write down the pertinent information and don’t get carried away trying to say everything that happened that day. I won’t be replicating the insightful comments made by students or my jokes. There is a cost, after all, to missing class.
How do you deal with the question “What did we do yesterday?” Do you have tried and true strategies for helping students find out what they missed?