The impact of late assignments on teachers

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Alaina Armi Alonzo

A high school student submits their late assignment to their teacher.

You walk into your first-period class, tired and still half-asleep. Dreading another tedious day of school, you make your way to your desk, and your senses start sharpening up. The classroom lights are practically blinding. 

Skimming the classroom, you see your teacher swimming his way through the sea of students. Before you realize what’s going on, it’s too late.

Your teacher is collecting homework. The homework you didn’t do. 

He’s getting closer, like a scene from a horror movie. Eventually, your time runs out, and you feel his haunting presence behind you.

“Do you have the homework?” he asks.

Panicking, you make an excuse, a lie.

“Sorry, I left it at my house; I’ll bring it tomorrow,” you promise.

Students everywhere make excuses to dodge their way around unfinished work. According to Faculty Focus, a research paper on the statistics of late assignments, roughly 70% of American students utilized fraudulent claim-making, and 66% used deceptive behavior to avoid negative consequences.

A typical pattern in students of all ages is telling falsehoods to avoid the consequences of missing assignments.

“The most absurd excuse I’ve given a teacher is that I did my work, but I folded it, put it in my pocket, and it ended up in the washer somehow and got destroyed,” said sophomore Mariana Panisset.

From the teachers’ point of view, they get numerous excuses from their students, which they believe are often laughable.

“An excuse a student has told me was ‘my dog ate my homework,’ but what was so funny was his dog was a puppy, and he did eat his homework because he left it on the floor in his bedroom… As with most excuses, I asked for a parent’s email to verify. Otherwise, I don’t let the student turn in homework late without a penalty,” said Kelly Redmon, an English teacher at Carlmont.

A wave of disappointment fills a teacher’s body when a student does not have the work done. They know that the student’s inability to complete their work affects their grading systems.

“Often, a teacher sits down to grade an entire assignment, and then we move on from that concept or lesson. Therefore, when a student turns in something late, a teacher has to go back and remember the assignment, concept, and grading method for that particular assignment. In addition, students will often pressure the teacher to grade the late work because they don’t like the missing or zero mark on their grade,” Redmon said.

Not only do excuses make a teacher’s workload heavier, but it also hinders students’ learning. Submitting work past the due date leads to falling behind and excess work. Teachers not only want their grading schedules to stay at a constant pace, but they want to be as considerate as possible to the students who could potentially fall behind. 

“It’s more that I worry about the students staying on top of the material that we’re covering in class at the moment. So if they’re doing the work, and it’s multiple days later, we’re already on to something else, and topics can overlap and get confusing… So really, it’s more my concern for students to learn how to meet a deadline, like staying on track with what we’re doing in class,” said Jordan Webster, Carlmont High School band and Spanish teacher.  

Webster also mentioned trying to stay as sympathetic as possible when receiving late work, making accommodations for students who may be struggling. 

“I want to be empathetic; you’re still students, and there’s a lot of stuff in your lives. So that’s why I’m always like, ‘come in tell me ahead of time.’ I try to be open to that,” Webster said. 

How do these excuses come to be at all? 

Late work from students may stem from the chaos in everyday life or simply procrastination, and it leads to inconveniences for teachers and students. Edutopia indicated that 80 to 95% of students participate in procrastination, roughly 75% call themselves procrastinators, and nearly 50% of students procrastinate consistently and problematically. They also added that procrastination is often associated with lower grades.

A domino effect is created by putting aside work, starting with teachers and ending in poor learning on a student’s part. 

A simple solution can be to avoid procrastination as a whole. There are multiple techniques students can put into place to stay on task. An excellent first step would be to address the problem.

The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning indicates that to overcome procrastination, a student must understand the reasons why procrastination occurs and that they can’t create an effective solution if they don’t understand the root of the problem; self-knowledge and awareness are essential parts of the solution.

Teachers and educators try to enforce self-discipline when it comes to committing to the due date; they are also trying to show students how their late work affects everyone around them, including themselves.

Redmon stressed the importance of submitting work on time and the harsh truth of late assignments.

“Teachers will often tell students, ‘A lack of planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine,’ I also tell students if they turn something in late, they will not only lose points but it will also get graded last after other more current things are graded,” Redmon said.