Anyone have a time machine to spare?

I’ll explain in a moment, but before I do that me FIERCELY state that I will NOT be that teacher. You know that teacher. The one who sits in the corner of the staff room hunched over and broken by years of bitterness and regret, wishing they still allowed corporal punishment, and thinking that fear and intimidation are better teachers than praise and compassion. The one who resists every change and thinks that “these kids today” are never going to amount to anything. She looks like this:


That will never be me. I mean, look at her shoes.

I still refuse to believe that deducting marks for not meeting deadlines is an effective strategy (see yesterday’s post). And yet here I am with seven instructional days left and here’s the situation. I handed out markbook print outs today so that students could see where they stood before the final exams and culminating tasks. And then the floodgates opened up. Suddenly students cared about missing assignments, or assignments that had not been completed to the best of their abilities. Suddenly I had a swarm of students who didn’t care a month ago asking me what they could do to improve their marks.

“That teacher” would have uttered a dry chuckle and said “You know what you can do? Get yourself a time machine, go back to February, and do your work.

But I didn’t say that. Instead I said yes.

“Can I still submit this?”


“Can I redo this?”


Why? Because if I say no, their marks would be lower–not because they weren’t capable of meeting the expectations, but because they didn’t meet the expectations within a given time frame. And mostly I say yes because a big part of me believes that while they have a responsibility to meet the expectations within a given time frame, I have a responsibility for teaching them that not meeting deadlines results in consequences, and I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain.

Why? Because I know what I’m good at and I focus too much on that. I’m good at designing engaging lessons (not all the time… but still good), I’m good at designing meaningful assessment tasks. I’m good at relating to my students (maybe too good). I am not good at staying organized, and I’m not good at coming up with meaningful consequences for poor academic behaviour. I’m also a sucker for a good sob story.

So what ends up happening? I end up stressed out with more work on my plate than they do, and I’m furious. But after an intense run that left me feeling exhausted I realized I wasn’t furious with my students. They’re students. They’re still learning. I’m furious with myself because I’m a teacher and I should know better. I think a part of me felt that having good rapport with my students should be enough to motivate them to submit their work on time.

I really need to get a solid policy in place for September and be consistent with that policy.

The only catch is, our board will be working on developing its own policy in response to the policy document from the ministry that I wrote about yesterday, and there’s no way that will be in place in September. So for now, I’ve got to try to make a policy that is still aligned with our current policy and does not contradict the new policy. Oh, and I probably have to run it by my department head and my principal. But both my principal and vice principal will be brand new in September.

My head hurts.

I think I need another run.

4 thoughts on “Anyone have a time machine to spare?

  1. I have asked myself a lot of these same questions. I don’t give a lot of “turn in” assignments and I think this might be part of the problem. I haven’t been able to set a precedence that I want it on time and on the other hand since I do not have a lot of assignments I feel like if I dock them too much for being late they don’t have a lot of opportunities to bring their grade up.
    When you figure it out be sure to let me know.

  2. Thanks, Kyle. It’s nice to know other teachers have the same problem. You’d think we’d be able to come up with a good solution don’t you?

  3. I really enjoy your blog and can certainly relate to the struggles you are facing about evaluation. A colleague of mine said this a couple of weeks ago, and it really stuck with me: “Students are works in progress. If they were finished products, they wouldn’t need us.” =)