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How can I handle this...
« on: September 11, 2018, 08:36:22 am »
I teach extra classes for a special English Program at my school and I'm having a big problem with attendance.

I see this group of students every day but there is never a day when the same amount of students (or the same students) come to the class.  So for example they'll come on a Monday, miss a couple of days and I'll see them again on Thursday.  Or a couple of them will turn up on a Tuesday but I won't see them again unti Friday.

Add to this the fact that the students who do turn up, never all arrive at the same time.  Some will be there at the start but then the rest will trickle in; ten minutes late, fifteen minutes late, twenty minutes late.

It's really stressing me out because of course it completely messes up the continuity of the material I prepare.  Some students have seen the material before, others won't have seen it.  Even if I start a new topic, those students who waltz in twenty minutes late have already missed the main explanation and we're already in the middle of an activity.

I've mentioned it to my coteacher who didn't really offer a solution apart from telling them to come on time.  I'm tearing my hair out!!  Any advice?


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 2607

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: How can I handle this...
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2018, 09:43:31 am »
the obvious solution is to stop caring as much. if nobody else seems to care - including the other teachers - then i personally wouldn't waste my energy stressing about it


  • kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 5386

    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: How can I handle this...
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2018, 11:20:48 am »
I have the same problem for my middle school after-school-class, but maybe to a lesser extent.

I find that teaching the lesson in nearly independent modules really helps. If students miss the first one or two, no problem, they can still follow the next.

     Likewise with missing entire classes: I like to do month long grammar and subject themes, but knowing that kids will miss a few, I try to keep them as 'stand-alone' as possible, tying them in with review modules the following week.

     I also usually make worksheets that are kind of like little follow-along notes for the class that kids fill in with stuff as we go along. If a kid misses a class, they can grab a copy of that the next class, and their mates will help them fill it in.


Re: How can I handle this...
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2018, 12:07:52 pm »
Alexisalex, are these middle school students?  Are these the ones you're getting paid for, for the post you did a while back? 

You could start rewarding the ones who come on time, like with a sticker chart.  When all of them are there, tell them about the reward system, and make sure they understand it.  Explain to the late ones they'll get squat.  Usually, these extra classes that you get paid for are paid for by the parents (8th period) so some other students opt out of them.  I have a lot of night classes and I'm much more gentle with students in these classes because usually it's pushing 7pm-8pm and I understand they're tired.  Also this year, with my night classes I get paid 40 000 won a class and was a little miffed because due to my high school students having other humanities/science lectures sometimes one or two will come, but my co-teacher said 'Just teach.  Even if you have one student, it doesn't matter'.  I can kind of see his point, annoying as it is when you spend time preparing.  I'd imagine having late students puts you off your stride too.

Thanks for the reply Dave and I should have clarified.  This is high school and these classes make up part of my 22 teaching hours (they are 7:50 to 8:30 every day before school) so I don't get paid extra.

I have thought about a reward system but I would feel a bit silly doing that with high school students.  I suppose we can't force them to come to these classes although they are for their benefit (interacting with the native teacher every day as opposed to once every three weeks).  Yes I see your coteacher's point too.

the obvious solution is to stop caring as much. if nobody else seems to care - including the other teachers - then i personally wouldn't waste my energy stressing about it

Yes I really really try to do that but it's hard  :sad:


  • debbiem89
  • Expert Waygook

    • 508

    • August 30, 2016, 09:42:49 am
    • South Korea
Re: How can I handle this...
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2018, 12:13:07 pm »
Always fill in an attendance sheet. Start recording absences and lateness....if they are x amount of time late (ten minutes say) mark them as absent. Twenty minutes is absolutely insane, I would never let them in at that time.

If that's not possible then give any serious or frequent late attenders a piece of writing to do at the back of the room in silence. Don't let them leave until it's finished. No games or prizes. Sorry it might only be an after school class but they are wasting everyone's time and it's not ok. If you and the other students can manage to get there then so can they. It's pure laziness and nothing else. 

My students were telling their parents they were coming..then swanning off elsewhere.

The teacher who ran the programme (who I gave my list to every week) called about one girls frequent absence and the kids parent insisted she attended. I insisted she didn't and she got a rollicking.

I enjoyed her getting caught out and she never missed a class again.

If they can get away with it they will. Simple as that.



Re: How can I handle this...
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2018, 12:40:02 pm »
Alexisalex, are you with EPIK? If so, you cannot work over, or be at school more than 8 hours a day unless they pay you extra. So, unless you get to leave early, you don't have to (by contract) teach these classes. If it is part of your teaching hours, then they have to fit it in with your regular schedule or let you leave early.

If you're not with EPIK, I would talk to a teacher about the attendance. Usually if a student misses my after school class, they get in trouble becasue they signed up to take it and therefore must attend.

And like others said, try to do each lesson as an independent lesson. Some students may have to miss class or come late, so it's best to just do each lesson as a stand alone.

Hope this helps!


Re: How can I handle this...
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2018, 01:21:38 pm »
Alexisalex, are you with EPIK? If so, you cannot work over, or be at school more than 8 hours a day unless they pay you extra. So, unless you get to leave early, you don't have to (by contract) teach these classes. If it is part of your teaching hours, then they have to fit it in with your regular schedule or let you leave early.

If you're not with EPIK, I would talk to a teacher about the attendance. Usually if a student misses my after school class, they get in trouble becasue they signed up to take it and therefore must attend.

And like others said, try to do each lesson as an independent lesson. Some students may have to miss class or come late, so it's best to just do each lesson as a stand alone.

Hope this helps!

Hi Bianca, thank you for the reply.  Yes I'm with Epik and I leave early every day.  If I can't leave early because of my regular schedule then I'll just "bank" the overtime and leave even earlier another day when my timetable allows it.

Yes I think I'll have to try and do shorter lessons that can stand alone.   I usually have one class as an introduction (to a grammar point) and then we'll practice it to death in the next one or two to ensure the students have got the concept.  Impossible really with their flaky attendance lol so I'd better quickly change my approach.


Re: How can I handle this...
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2018, 07:09:44 am »
the obvious solution is to stop caring as much. if nobody else seems to care - including the other teachers - then i personally wouldn't waste my energy stressing about it

This is literally the 'secret' to happiness at work in ESL in Korea :)

You do YOUR best.  You prepare your classes well with good varied activities and extra for back up.  Self respect = yes.

You deliver the classes politely and with enthusiasm but do not obsess too much over things you cannot control and your boss / Korean co-teachers / parents do not care about such as copying each other's work, some students not engaging, and the other issues you bought up etc.

Self esteem points = yes.

You do your end as well as possible.

You then have literally - and it really boils down to this - two choices.

Be stressed.

Not be stressed.

It's all in your hands.

Do your prep, do your best in class but ease up on 'control / perfection.'  It's the key secret to a happy life.  A co teacher asks you to give a E grade student a B to keep the parents happy, just do it.  You are doing your job and hopefully educating the ones that want to be educated and are engaged.

Even in China where the kids are WAY better behaved I was told this.  I used to really work hard on classroom management.  I had them in groups, had great positive reinforcement rewards set up, everything but I did micro manage a bit too much.

I was told my my supervisor that my classes were great, so much so that it made them want to teach again!  But it stressed some of the kids out so I had to accept they are just young kids in a classroom on top of normal school and in a foreign language and some did not want to be there whatever happened or whomever was teaching, so do not focus on those ones too much, let them come to the light if and when they want to and just concentrate on the rest.

It worked.  Took me a while to accept it as I was a bit perfectionist -out of the best intentions - but it proved to be good advice.

In a nutshell, don't be a slacker but don't force things outside of your control.

:)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2018, 07:13:00 am by DWAEDGIMORIGUKBAP »


Re: How can I handle this...
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2018, 08:10:40 am »
I teach extra classes for a special English Program at my school and I'm having a big problem with attendance.

I see this group of students every day but there is never a day when the same amount of students (or the same students) come to the class.  So for example they'll come on a Monday, miss a couple of days and I'll see them again on Thursday.  Or a couple of them will turn up on a Tuesday but I won't see them again unti Friday.

Add to this the fact that the students who do turn up, never all arrive at the same time.  Some will be there at the start but then the rest will trickle in; ten minutes late, fifteen minutes late, twenty minutes late.

It's really stressing me out because of course it completely messes up the continuity of the material I prepare.  Some students have seen the material before, others won't have seen it.  Even if I start a new topic, those students who waltz in twenty minutes late have already missed the main explanation and we're already in the middle of an activity.

I've mentioned it to my coteacher who didn't really offer a solution apart from telling them to come on time.  I'm tearing my hair out!!  Any advice?

I'm going through a similar problem currently. The school set up two after school classes per week for me to teach. When they first started, I worked it out with my VP where we'd use a specific book set for each class, and we'd cover half a lesson per class. However, kids kept skipping out and then each month the roster would change. Then I'd have knew kids who had never covered the earlier material showing up.

I've fixed this by readjusting my schedule and expectations a bit. One class I can luckily keep on the same pace, because the class dropped in size but the kids who are coming have been here since the start.

The other class (which keeps have drops and newbie adds), I've just readjusted the schedule. In stead of focusing strictly on the book material, I alternate between "review days" (to catch up any new kids who show up, and to reinforce previous material to give the other kids practice) and "book days" (to cover new material).

Seems to work so far. The only downside is that I've had to adjust the schedule where we cover more material on book days.... which doesn't make me happy. I prefer it much more if we can cover a minimal amount, take our time, make sure they all get lots of one-on-one practice, and make sure they completely understand it. But with kids coming in and out; this seemed to be the only adequate solution.