Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teaching Tuesday: Attendance, Make-up Work, and Papers to Grade

One of the marks of a good teacher, especially an English teacher, is the ability to organize and manage all the endless PAPERS that come with the job...  Luckily, in my previous life, organization was a strength of mine, and for the most part, it has remained intact over my last six years in the classroom.

I get requests for information about these things a lot, so I will attempt to be concise and helpful... As always, please feel free to email me if you have specific questions!

First up, attendance and make-up work:

I don't have any kind of genius plan for this... My paper attendance records are kept on a clipboard in the front of the room.  Every two weeks (or five class periods on the block) I print a new attendance sheet and fill in the dates that particular class will meet.  The sheet includes each student's name, a column for each day, and a large column to record "missed work."  The last column makes it easy for me to remember to tell Sally that she needs to make-up a quiz, or remind Alex about a paper we turned in Tuesday when he was out.  I also try to paper clip the Missing Work Logs for a particular class behind their attendance sheet so I know to harass remind those students to turn in work as well.

I keep these attendance sheets for a month at a time, and then use them to fill in a larger spread sheet in Excel that tracks my attendance for the nine weeks/semester/year. I know there are lots of other (and probably better) resources available for tracking attendance online, but this works well for me.

Finally, I keep a binder for students to check for make-up work if/when they miss class.  Each grade (or block) has their own tab in the binder & folder for loose hand-outs.  If a student is absent, I just write their name on the test/quiz/whatever and stick it in the appropriate spot in the binder.  Students know to look there for anything they could not access via Blackboard upon their return to school.  For the most part, this works well.

And, a tiny bit about keeping up with papers to grade & to return:

I have always used some sort of system like this, but I just found this new accordian file at Target this weekend, and I love that it has a pouch where I can store my colored pens etc. (I'm forever getting home and realizing I don't have a good pen to grade with.)  Basically, I just make a two tabs for each of my classes - one for papers that need to be graded, and one for papers that need to be returned (i.e. have already been graded).  Then, as I collect papers, I simply alphabetize them and put them in the appropriate slot.  This little file folds up and easily goes back and forth to school with every day.

So... What are your systems for managing papers?  Please share!!


  1. E,

    This post so made my stressful day better!

    I so need to go grab another accordion file. I've been stressing out about the amount of papers currently sitting on my desk and whether or not they need to be returned. Do you have a system in place for work that can't be handed back because students haven't turned them all in yet? Example: a test from last week can't go back until everyone takes it, which won't happen until next week. I don't really want to lug that back & forth for days.

    I'm based in 1 room, but have 4th block in a second one. It makes organization a struggle. I've been struggling with having the necessary papers in both rooms for make up work, and may need to switch to the binder idea for that too!

    Hope your semester's going well! We started earlier than you, so our midpoints were mailed out Friday!

  2. I love the "Teaching Tuesday" posts. I started following your blog because I am a fellow high school (science) teacher and I loved your ideas. Keep them coming!

  3. Thank you for starting the Teaching Tuesday posts! I teach middle school English and love all the great ideas that you've shared. I use a small plastic file box to organize my paperwork. I tried using the accordion file last year, but it fell apart pretty quickly. We'll see if I continue to like the file box as the year continues.

  4. I love hearing your teaching tips! I'm a whopping 4 days into my teaching career and I have way more piles of paper on my best than i ever imagined! today i stuck my papers to grade in a manila folder and called it good but i'm guessing that it won't last too long. mostly i'm just trying to not get behind, because then i'm worried i'll never get out of it.

  5. Already am using the attendance sheets (I'm that fast) ...and I think a trip to Target is an order.


  6. Hello!

    I was interested in your downloadable files, but when I try to access them, I am told that they do not exist. Is there any other way to access these?

    Thank you!


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