I recently came across an article by Rick Wormeli entitled, “Late Work: A Constructive Response” that outlines ways to teach students the importance of punctuality and responsibility without indiscriminately lowering grades for every late assignment. I highly recommend reading it to anyone who struggles with finding the right late work policy for their own classroom.
Mr. Wormeli has been in education for 33 years and has taught math, science, history, English, PE, and health. He has written many books on education, including Meet Me in the Middle and Fair Isn’t Always Equal. He is much more an expert than I am on effective classroom policies, so I want to share here some of his thoughts on this topic that stood out to me.
Regarding giving no credit or severely lowered credit for late assignments, Wormeli says:
“Let’s deal with late work in ways that lead to students’ personal investment in learning. Driving an assignment into the ground doesn’t serve anyone. While there should be consequences for not meeting deadlines, we can still spend time
investigating the situation before arbitrarily lowering the grade.”
He also stresses that it is important to remember that middle school students come to us as 11 or 12-year-old children and leave us 4 years before they will be considered adults:
“We are teaching young adolescents who are learning [adult-level] competencies for the first time. To demand consistent, adult-level competence of middle schoolers is inappropriate. We have to walk students through mature decision making and action-taking regarding their time.”
Recurring late work is undoubtedly a problem in middle schools. To get the full value of Mr. Wormeli’s thoughts, read his article: here. Don’t be afraid to try something new if you feel that what you are doing hasn’t worked. And by all means, if you have discovered a late work policy that works for you, please share!