I always teach at 8:00 in the morning and normally don’t have a problem with students’ coming late. However, this quarter I have a class where more and more students are coming late. There are usually more students not in class than in the classroom. It has gotten out of hand. The easiest thing to do is go the punishment route. I know an instructor who used to lock the door at 8:00 and open it again at 8:20. After using this technique only one time, the instructor didn’t have any more late students. That seems harsh. I could subtract points, humiliate the students more than I do now, or I could give a pop quiz exactly at 8:00 for extra points.
But I didn’t want to level out punishments. I talked with the class (after everyone had arrived) and passed out a clean sheet of paper asking them to come up with a solution to the problem. They were not to put their names on the papers, and all the papers were the same. Before they gave their suggestions, they could discuss the topic with their partner. They could keep the paper with them during the class. At the end of class, I collected them.
Here is what I got:
- Offer coffee in class
- Give extra credit for coming on time
- Have all the students fill out a “promise” form not to be late again. If the promise is broken, s/he has to take the whole class to lunch
- Late students get extra homework
- Late students have to bring food for the whole class next time
- Late students can’t ask any questions for that day
- Rewards for coming on time
- If students come on time, they can miss one or two homework assignments
- Tell everyone that the class now starts at 7:30
- Give a quiz at 8:00 for extra points
- Late students have to dance by themselves in front of the class
- Start class 20 minutes after 8:00
- I’m so sorry
When I was a student, I wasn’t late. I didn’t need a punishment or an incentive to be on time. I realize that some of my students work until 1:00 a.m. and get home late. Some students travel for 1 hour and 40 minutes each way to Foothill. I get that.
I have another 8:00 class, and coming late is not a problem. Why? It can’t be the material. Is it seeing their friends, doing a last-minute job on their homework, not wanting to lose face, making a promise to themselves, having well-established habits for being on time? Could it be that the class has formed a community that the students enjoy?
It is at the end of the quarter, and it is probably too late for the class with the tardiness problems. But I am wondering how I could have handled this better and how I will handle this if it appears again.