Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Late Work Is Not Accepted

When writing about an emotive topic there is no reason to hide your message.

Teachers should not accept late work.

The acceptance of late work indicates a deficiency in the planning or communication of the assignment by the teacher or the lack of a work ethic by the student or both. Neither of which will be fixed or given reason to change by accepting the late work.

I have accepted late work at times during my teaching career. I stopped when I realized it did not change the behavior creating the need to accept the late work.

Please share your side of the issue.


  1. 1) Does doing the work have any educational impact..that is, does it transfer into learning?

    2) If so, when does it lose that impact?

    I am reminded that Andrew Wiles spent almost ten years in near isolation solving the 400 year old Fermat Theorem... and then another three or so to correct a flaw in his proof. Late work?

    After all these years, what I think I have learned about teaching is that what separates good teaching from bad teaching is not easy to identify, and certainly can't be listed off in a set of rules.

    I'm not sure your third paragraph covers all the possibilities....At the very least, I want to hear the kids story before I say "NO CREDIT".. and if it is my fault ..poor planning or whatever... then do-overs should be an automatic.
    If you don't think "late" work is acceptable, don't accept it. For me, (and this is right now..tomorrow I may decide differently) I will make that decision on a case by case basis.

    I guess my general philosophy is to desire reason over rules.

  2. I stopped trying to cover all of the possibilities which may occur in the educational life of a young adolescent. If, though, I am at fault then I put things right.

    On the other side of this post is the understanding of the effect of effort. I want students to try, to wrestle with ideas. Once I see where their thinking is leading them I am able to offer assistance.

    A blank piece of paper in a math class only works for origami.

  3. In my working life, I’ve known any number of folks who were intelligent and capable, but who were chronically late on deadlines and deliverables. As a result, others had to work that much harder and the quality of our overall efforts suffered. A very, very few may get through life on raw talent alone. But for the vast majority of people – if your dog somehow always eats your homework – you will be the person not called for the next assignment, the applicant rejected for the loan, the musician who misses out on the performance of a lifetime.

    You are teaching a valuable lesson, Alan. Keep up the good work.

  4. Alan- As an upcoming teacher, I've given the idea of accepting late homework and I've come to the following two thoughts. First, if I've assigned something for the students to do, then It should be assumed that it's important enough to get them to do it, even if it's late. However, just like your credit card, there needs to be a cost to the student of turning in homework for credit. My solution--if I've assigned odd problems from say 11-20, then the onetime homework is those problems, while the late homework is ALL the problems from 10-20. Everyone's a winner; the student get the credit they wanted (and a lees on in why being late sucks) and we get the benefit of them doing plenty of the problems we want them to work on.

  5. Richard- Teaching is decision-making. Your plan will work if your students fully understand your expectations. Creative idea related to a real world experience (e.g. credit card). I look forward to hearing your stories.

    How will you deal with the student who does not complete either assignment? How long are you willing to wait for the new version of the assignment?