Keep your sanity at report card time!

The day before report card day is one of four days a year students miraculously care about the number in the grade book.

Nobody cared when I said, “Sure, get that to me tomorrow,” or “It’ll be posted on the Google Classroom Wall.”

Today they care–because they’re about to get “the lecture” at home. They line up at your door, knock during class, and send a thousand emails to try to make up work before grades go home.

If you’re strong and amazing, you probably have an ironclad policy for this, something like “No!”

I’ve never been quite that strong.

This comes back to haunt me. I’ve ended up with a Mt. Fuji on my desk, or worse–now that some of it’s digital–endless emails or after-quarter late stuff filtering to the surface that I said “okay” to but never saw in the chaos.

How does a kind teacher show compassion without getting kicked in the pants?

Here’s your intervention. Try these suggestions and see if next quarter, you’re much happier and less insane.

Set a line in the sand.

Put together a grading policy. Be clear when you tell students what you will and won’t accept. Then, follow it.

Tell why

If you do make an exception, say why. For me, it’s “I’m making you do extra.” “You’ve shown so much effort and improvement I’m going to let you take care of this old work too.” Students don’t start thinking, “She’ll let me and I can procrastinate.”

Make it clear

Once, I allowed a student to make up a chunk of work that was way too late. I should have said no. Still, I wanted to give him a chance. I got into a bit of stress between the student and the mom, because the student told the mom he wasn’t clear on my expectations.

This was completely my fault. I had allowed him to catch me between classes–I usually do not give work unless students come before or after school. I tried to cut the kid some slack.

Sitting down without distraction and making the deals is clear is helpful for both sides.

Make them come to you

When work is late or needs to be made up, have kids go the extra mile to be permitted to make up work. Having them come before or after school cuts down on distractions and interruptions like “What did I miss?” and gives personal time to go over the work.

If you do these things…

This should cut down on report card desperation and help you focus on serious learning and revisions. I don’t want to be bogged down with work just because a kid’s about to be grounded, but I will redo and redo for mastery and understanding.

Being fair, firm, and flexible helps you do all these things without turning into an end-of-quarter doormat.