Wednesday, March 14, 2007

To Deadline or not to Deadline

A friend of mine emailed me this question as to classroom policy. I told him I would post the problem on my blog and see what solutions my co-workers have..

The email reads as follows:

This is something that I've wrestled with for a very long time, and I still don't have anything close to an answer.

We've got what I could call an epidemic among our 9th graders, of students who do not complete assignments.

One of the teachers started this, and I followed suit, by saying that for this t-mester, I would accept any work up until the end of the marking period (Friday). A few students have turned in work, but there's still many, many more who haven't.
I discussed this topic at length with one of my classes yesterday. One of the things that the students said was that they wanted deadlines to "mean something."
I tried to talk about this with my team members, but I got "do what you think works for you." The problem is, is that neither the hard, or flexible deadline approach is working.
What do you do?


-Eddelson said...

Students LOVE teachers who STICK to deadlines. I call it a healthy anxiety, and deadlines, I believe, adds that much realism and importance to a project. Wavering deadlines, even if indirectly, insinuate that an educator is unsure of him/herself and the confidence of his/here students. For those students who really can't meet deadlines and are pushing themselves: try to create staggered deadlines were portions of the project have several deadlines. This helps in two areas - it creates an environment where students get used to meeting timelines and also focuses expertise in portions of a large project one at a time. Thus students who have difficulty meeting deadlines will not feel so overwhelmed and will slowly adjust to the pressures of real-world assignments and expectations.

But never sit on the fence....pick a side - deadline or not.

Demi said...

It helps, especially with 9th graders, to post a chart with student names, assignments, and deadlines (past and looming). Students who "do" earn a check; those who don't have no excuses for "forgetting" and, more importantly, learn to care more.

goddess said...

I had a long talk with my cohort on the subject of deadlines. One teacher suggested that making a grace of zero for something not turned in as not an option. This basically makes the idea of deadlines obsolete, because well that means you have to hound them to get stuff turned in. (This method doesn't work with my OCD brain)

It was also suggested that it be an entire staff policy that students turn work in on time because one teacher being flexible turns students into "but Mr. so and so lets us turn it in late." While this is my favorite option, I realize it just doesn't work with everyone's working style.

My thought on letting deadlines be a decision from teacher to teacher is that it teaches kids that everyone is different and has different working expectations and that they need to adjust.

Anonymous said...

My experience, before becoming a teacher, taught me that the outside world had little sympathy for MY problems. A deadline was literally that.. hand it in or you are dead. My clients (for the most part) did not want to hear that I didn't make their investments because I had a tummy ache or my printer didn't work.

Are strict deadlines in high school a bad thing? Aren't they a step toward teaching kids about accountability?

I do a lot of group work. If my deadlines are fluid what message do I send to the kids who busted butts to get the work in on time?

I am pretty open to all sorts of educational philosophies but deadlines are a sticking point for me. I think they are important and relevant to the world outside school. So my students know that tummy aches and printer problems are not acceptable excuses. Email it, pony express it, give it to a friend. Be accountable, be responsible.

By the blue sheets are in on time now! ;)