Thursday, October 17, 2013

Late Students

Something that sets the tone for the entire Seminary morning is my early arrival. It is something I am committed to and I can count on one hand how many times I have arrived in the parking lot and had students or parents waiting for me. This is such a tender mercy for me as I have struggled with not being a "morning person" for most of my life. My class starts at 6am and my goal is to be there by 5:40am. I know it is the Lord who is making this possible and, most of the time, waking up at 4:45 is easy (not always- but most of the time) It makes such a difference in the spirit when I arrive early and set up details for the lesson without rushing or pushing. As my students arrive, I like everything to be ready and waiting for them-no rushing around on lesson set-up. When the classroom and lesson are ready for the students in advance, it provides me with the opportunity to greet them and let them know I am happy to see them. I like to get a feel for their spirit, tone, mood, etc. Many times I will see one of them and know exactly which part of the lesson I need to spend the most time on.
Most of my students arrive early and are in their seats ready to start at 6am. The students who are on time are rewarded with a treat from the "on-time" jar,  however, there are still a few who push the late arrival limits on a regular basis. My class is so large the room set up has the students facing the entrance doors that any late arrivals is very disruptive. 
I don't like giving attention to this situation, but at the same time, the students who make the effort to arrive on time are affected by the interruption of late arrivals. The spirit leaves and it it difficult to get back on the flow of our lesson when students are trickling in and trying to get settled.
Right now,  when the students arrive excessively late (much after 10 minutes), I send them to the Bishop who is in the building each morning. They get to sit with him and read and discuss scriptures. It has been very effective and the late arrivals stop for a few weeks and then the same students start slipping back to their old habits. The Bishop is very supportive and he makes sure to speak with their parents and discuss how to get their children to Seminary on time.
It is painful for me to send these students to the "Bishops class" because I want them with us, yet it is the right thing to do for our situation.  I am grateful for his support.
Other than the sending them to their Bishop, I am not sure of an effective way to address late students without giving it too much attention.
Ideas? Thoughts?
What has worked or not for your class?


  1. I'm a morning person and generally find it easy to arrive 20 minutes early. My students, however, struggle quite a bit. Out of eight students, I'm lucky if one of them is present so we can get started on time. If I'm unlucky, they're all at least 15 minutes late. I find it frustrating, but in my class it's usually not the student's fault. None of their parents tend to be the "on time" sort--they're the ones walking into Sacrament Meeting after the sacrament has been passed or chatting in the foyer until Sunday School is half over. So in my case, punishing the student doesn't help (most of my students are embarrassed to be late day after day) and there's not much point in bringing it up repeatedly with the parents--if they're late for everything else they're not going change their ways to get their kid to seminary. So my challenge is to be patient, love them, be glad to see them (rather than annoyed), and cut the lesson short when necessary.

    However, we've been working on entering the room and taking a seat QUIETLY if class has already started, rather than disrupting the class with stories about what happened last night :-)

  2. I've been asked not to enter the church unless someone else is there - for safety reasons, so I can't arrive much before my class. My kids all come on time though because I reward them. I buy coins at Party City and call them sheckels - or this year amnors. Kids that are on time get a coin. They also earn coins for passing off scripture mastery, participating in class, winning games, etc. At the end of the semester we have an auction and the kids can bid against one another, using the coins they earned during the semester. I buy inexpensive things at an LDS store, stock up during Staples penny sales at the beginning of the year and pick up a few other odds and ends. I also let them bid on candy and homemade cookies. They love the auction and I never have to nag them to be on time.

  3. We recently started an "on time jar". When the students arrive at 6:00am or before they sign in and can put a puffball into a jar. At 6:01, the jar and puffballs get put away. Once the jar is full, my team teacher and I will provide breakfast. We have 24 students and if they all came on time they would fill the jar in 6 days. The kids now nag each other and we don't have to say anything!