“I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.”
- Attributed to E.V. Lucas
Being fashionably late is considered an art form by some and laziness by others. The art of arriving late such that you're not the first person to arrive at an event, especially when it is an event at which you do not know anyone other than the host, is a very line to walk. There are a innumerable possibilities for why you might be late to an event, and that only multiplies once you have children.
I saw an article on the Teacher Magazine website a while ago titled The effect of student tardiness on learning that piqued my interest. This is a topic that I have always taken for granted as the imapcts are, I believe, fairly obvious. Less time in class means less learning.
The articles refers to a 2011 study by the Hammill institute on Disabilities which examined the impact on student tardiness in primary students through the use of teacher-written praise notes. This struck me as being an interesting approach to this issue rather than any sort of punitive punishment; which has no empirical evidence to support positive outcomes such as a reduction in the rate of or levels of tardiness. The article is an interesting one and it does not take long to read. It occurred to me that this approach to tardiness is one in which many schools already have policies in place around how they are dealt with. I have taught at schools where being late (arriving after the role has been marked) means you have to check in at the front office first, who mark you as late rather than absent, and give you a note to give to your teacher indicating that you have been recorded as present in the system.
“People who are chronically tardy never understand the many ways in which they screw up the schedules of people who are punctual and 'normal'...”
- Lauren Kate, in Fallen
There are some obvious statements in the article, around issues such as tardiness at school develops habits and attitudes around punctuality, their lateness disrupting the learning of the whole class, and teacher frustration as a result of having to re-teach content, students missing out on activities that build connections, social interaction with peers and alienation from classmates if it is a habitual lateness.
I feel that there is an element of classroom management here as well as, more importantly, the student-teacher relationship. Many teachers will approach negative behaviours in class by calling out and reinforcing the positive behaviours exhibited by other students e.g. Well done x for doing y quickly and quietly and other similar statements, though the language varies teacher to teacher and with different year groups.
The relationship that you have with your students is also important in this space as well as it will potentially inform you reaction to the students' tardiness depending on what you know about the student and their home life.
I also feel that the use of flipped pedagogical strategies comes into play here and can alleviate, to a degree, some of the alleged frustration around having to reteach. With my year Five and Six students, they knew that the first activity each morning was the same - once they had dealt with the basic housekeeping such as marking themselves on the role and bringing permission notes and monies to me, they spent ten minutes reading and then we moved into our literacy activities, all of which followed a routine which they were taught early on and which leveraged flipped learning practices.
"If you arrive on time, you are already late"
- My Great Grandfather
I very much adhere to the above sentiment, greatly influenced by my Great Grandfather and also my Grandmother and my Father, all of whom are very organised and punctual people. For appointments, I will aim to arrive ten to fifteen minutes early to allow for traffic, finding a park, getting to the actual location from the parking, and also to provide some head space to collect my thoughts if the day to that point has been busy.
Praise, the article says, is one of the easiest modifications a teacher can make to address behaviour issues, though it does need to be done in context. I also feel that this is an area where primary schools have an advantage of secondary schools as the only transition time between classes, generally, is coming back to class after the morning and lunch breaks.
What is your approach to managing student tardiness? Have you changed what you do over time or has it always been dictated by a school policy?