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How to Manage Absent Student Work


Absences happen. Students get sick, families have emergencies, players leave for sports games or field trips, counselor and nurse visits abound, etc. Having a set procedure for how to collect absent student work, how to ensure that work ends up in the student's hands once they return, and how to grade and record the work once the student hands it back is vital for a well managed and productive classroom.

Below are some tips on how to manage absent student work.



1. Review your school or district policy on absences and missed work. Make sure that your policy matches that of the district and school / department. If there is no policy, create your own that is fair and timely. I like to give students one day for each absence to turn in work. If an assignment was already due on the day the student was absent, that assignment is due the day they return (no extra day extensions).

2. Include your absenteeism policy in your class syllabus or welcome letter at the start of the school year.

3. Create a procedure for collecting work when a student is absent. I assign a student in each class period to be my "Hospitality Supervisor." This student's job is to collect all handouts passed out and/or work returned for the absent student. The "Hospitality Supervisor" writes the absent student's name on all handouts, organizes all of the work in an absent student file folder (I have a set of the folders ready with a "We Missed You!" card glued to the outside), and then places the folder on my desk at the end of the class period.

4. At the end of the class period, I fill out an absent student form. Actually, I usually have my "Hospitality Supervisor" fill out the form and I check it for accuracy. I find that the students are awesome at conveying information to absent students because they just completed the assignment and can explain any quick tips or need to knows easily. I staple or paperclip the absent student form to the handouts, and then place it back in the folder.

I place the folder(s) in a hanging file folder in a box on my desk. I have a hanging file folder for each class period, so I just place it inside the appropriate class period. The next day, the "Hospitality Supervisor" stops by my desk (before attendance), grabs the absent student file folder, and hands the student the folder. The "Hospitality Supervisor" goes over the folder with the student and answers any questions. I check in with the student before class ends to make sure they know when the work is due and just to touch base and welcome them back.

5. Once a folder is prepared for a student, I use an absent student work checklist to keep track of students and assignments. I record the student's name with the assignment next to it on one row. Then I write the date in the column title. When the assigned work is returned complete, I either put a check mark under the date next to the assignment or highlight the box.


I have created a set of Absent Student Forms to aid in the organization and management of student make-up work. The set includes two different types of absent student notes to attach to assignments, business card size notes to attach to the front of "We Missed You Folders," and absent student work checklists to keep records on assignment completion.
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