Over the past 3 1/2 years I’ve been working at Project Learn, there has always been one constant in my classrooms: my students are always late. Generally, my classroom is pretty relaxed and I try not to impose too many rules on my students. Usually only two: ask questions when you don’t understand and have fun. This has basically worked in all my classes, GED or ESOL; I value the relationships I develop with my students. My rule of thumb has basically been “they’re adults; let them regulate themselves”; however, it has done nothing to help their tardiness (I generally don’t like that term–reminds me too much of high school).
Now, you could be thinking if their only a couple of minutes late that’s not too bad…and you’re right. Heck, I’d be estatic if it was only five minutes. But an hour and a half? Classes only last 2 1/2 hours. I mean why even come. We’ve discussed this problem more times than I’m willing to admit in the office. And to be honest, we do have a punctuality rule; I just haven’t been enforcing it. I’d rather not to. Deep down I just want them to realize it’s important, and a great deal of students do. But as Rick has said time and time again that we’re not teaching them to value it. If we allow them to come in whenever they want, are we showing our students that there is value in what we’re teaching them? From three years of experience, I’d have to so probably not.
So…this week, to my students dismay, I’ve actually started enforcing our punctuality policy (with my own little caveat). Now they can only be late three times in a session. Summer’s working in their favor: they can be late three times in a month. But that’s just a trial. Starting this fall, they will only be allowed to be later than 10 minutes three times throughout September to December. After that, if they’re late, I won’t let them in the classroom. Some of you may thing this is still to liberal, but I think it’s a good start. I doubt that I’ll ever get too much more strict than that–I do my best not to be too fascist.
There hasn’t been a riot, and my students seem to be coming earlier and back from break a lot sooner. However, we’ll see how long it lasts.