Five minutes before the first bell, the math teacher passed through my room saying, "So, it's going to be a long day, huh? I've heard several students say they didn't bring their textbooks."
Yes, I had heard some rumblings. Several of them popped into class before school started to let me know they didn't bring their books. "Miss, I forgot. Can I bring it tomorrow?"
When will they realize that I don't want to hear 20 excuses before 7 am as to why they didn't follow instructions?
During the first class, I had 26 students. Only 6 brought their books.
I was L I V I D.
Livid at that time of morning... Are you kidding me? Thanks for pissing in my Cheerios, kids. It's gonna be a happy, shiny day for sure!
Initially I thought perhaps when students did bring their books I would make them carry them for a few days--as I surely won't have much extra time to deal with it--before checking them in.
Only, I really do want the books turned in. And they really don't want to keep the books. In a moment of complete clarity, I found a much better solution.
I quickly found an exercise that reviews comma usage, and then I announced,
"Since you are so interested in keeping your textbooks, you might as well use them. Your assignment is to do page 620, exercise 2. If you turned in your textbook, you are excused from this homework. As long as you insist on keeping your textbooks, I will be happy to assign homework from it."The students were bracing for anger. A raging explosion. They were much more freaked out by what I gave them in my calm, cool, and collected demeanor.
I'm proud of my brilliant idea. Will it work? For most. A few students will need to receive a fine before they will take me seriously. Whatever. I can deal with those three or four. It's the 100 who thought that I wouldn't mind processing textbooks for the next couple of weeks despite the fact I told them it would that irritate me.
I did have slightly better collection rates in a few of my classes. Usually I am frustrated when students are so inconsiderate and I have deadlines of my own to keep. Sometimes it feels personal--can they not see how valuable my time is? How rude! I talked to them like adults and explained why they needed to meet the deadline given. I have so much to do in the last few weeks of school! Today, I was calm as I reminded students to do their homework since they had chosen to keep their textbooks. I'm still irritated, but probably for not very long!
No, I'm not wasting their time with exercises out of the book. It's not busy work. We never have enough time to do everything we need to do, so what a blessing it is that some of them will have some extra practice from the text before the end of the year!