Even second graders ask the dreaded question. “Did you do anything while I was gone?” Of course, work for students doesn’t stop when they are absent. Of course, we’re always learning! However, for our younger learners, managing work for absent students can be a struggle for both you and your students if you don’t have a plan in place. Here are some tips to keep you and the kids sane when it comes to organizing work for kids who are absent.
Use Absent Folders
Using absent folders in the classroom is the simplest way I have found to organize student work when they are away from the classroom. By using this system, I know what the student needs to complete, and it’s easy to conference with them when they return.
Here’s how it works:
First, folder assembly is a breeze. Don’t over complicate creating folders. You can use a simple manila folder or a pocket folder. If you want to make them a bit more decorative, use a simple folder system like the ones from the ones below. You could even have students decorate their own folder at the start of the year.
I always have a student who sits at the absent’s student table (or near their desk) be my special helper for the day! Another way is to have each student assigned a buddy at the start of the school year that is in charge of their absent folder.
Start by having a student retrieve the absent folder for the missing student and place it on their desk. This will remind you to put the papers for the student in their folder. You can even have the student helper place all the extra assignments and handouts in the absent student’s folder.
If a student has an extended absence or illness that requires work to be sent home before their return, you may invite students to write “get well” notes in their folder. This is also a good opportunity for you to send well wishes to the student.
Time to Conference
When the absent student returns, take time to go through the folder with the student. If needed, pull them aside one on one instruction for work that needs a bit more explanation. Take home assignments that may be completed at home. Share a timeline for the work completed. My rule of thumb is however many days missed is the amount of time given to complete assignments. For example, if a student is absent for two days, they have two days to complete the work.
Be Flexible and Fair
When you have students absent from class, it’s important to be flexible given the complexity of the work and the length of the absent. I have found that absent folders are the easiest system for keeping work organized for both teachers and students. Managing work for absent students is part of the classroom management system taught in the New Teacher Masterclass. Start your career off right with tips to help you teach and manage your classroom without the stress!
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