Did I miss anything important?

The Question Teachers Dread

One of the most frustrating questions I receive as a teacher comes from well-meaning students who want to make up assignments that they’ve missed.

You know the question. It’s a classic: Did I miss anything important?

Without fail, this single line sends my maturity level packing as every sophomoric retort I can formulate between the-time-the-question-is-asked and the-time-my-reply-is-executed moves in.

Apparently, I am not alone.

The Answers Teachers Think But Don’t Say

When I Googled responses to the did-I-miss-anything question, I found that a lot of teachers have felt the sting of it, too, and were more than happy to share some of their unspoken responses.

Here are three of my favorites:

1. “Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here we sat with our hands folded on our desks in silence, for the full two hours.” from Did I Miss Anything? (Poem by Tom Wayman)

2. “No. We were so depressed by your absence that we didn’t have the energy to carry on.” from But I Didn’t Miss Anything, Did I? (YouTube xtranormal video by Amanda Lynch Morris)  

3. “No, I noticed you were absent so I assigned the class coloring sheets instead.” from someecards (E-card , writer unknown)

To add insult to injury, returning students either ask this question just before class begins, or they send an e-mail, requesting a brief-but-thorough recap of everything they’d ever want to know about the day’s events. Either way their message is clear: They don’t want an answer that will require more than three minutes of their time.

 The While You Were Out Filing System to the Rescue

While You Were Out

Fortunately, the While You Were Out filing system that has saved me from having to choke back my defensive responses – or blurting out my favorite Google finds. So now if I hear the did-I-miss-anything question, I smile politely and tell students to find the folder marked with the day(s) they were absent and simply follow the guidelines for submission.

The benefits for me and for my students are noteworthy:

(1) Students assume full responsibility for making up missing assignments.

(2) Students who do ask about making up missed work get a quick and friendly response from me – which they appreciate.

(3) And best of all, my emotional stability remains intact.

How to Create a While You Were Out  Filing System

Here is what you will need to put together your own While You Were Out filing system:

Five black file folders (The cheapest ones I found were on Amazon.)
Five folder labels and a While You Were Out sign (free at my TpT store)
One glue stick
One heavy, plastic shoe box

Attach the While You Were Out sign to a heavy plastic shoe box.
Glue the days-of-the-week labels to black file folders.
Drop the folders into the labeled box.

Now, whenever you give classwork, homework, or long-term assignments to your class, all you have to do is remember to insert the extra papers into the folder marked with the day you presented each assignment. Add a new submit by date to the top of any assignment that will have a different submission date for students who missed your class.

How to Request Materials

Let me know if you’d like more resources like this one by leaving a comment on this blog or by leaving a comment under the rating stars on the Teachers pay Teachers site. You can also have teacher-requested tips delivered to your inbox by clicking: http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001_Sihum3TrbPEDe4tqrPgPA%3D%3D

Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

About the author: Janice Malone is a teacher, seminar leader and owner of ELA Seminars. For more of her story, visit her website www.ELAseminars.com, and check out the 100’s of free lessons she has posted on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/elaseminars/.