Saturday, November 9, 2013

No More Excuses: I Forgot My Notebook

I decided to share how I take away student excuses.  I'm sure you've heard them all:

I forgot my notebook at home (or in my locker).

I forgot to do my homework.

I don't have a pencil.

I don't have any paper.

I'm not a good test-taker.

I can't take the test, I was absent for the review.

For this post, I'd like to focus on the notebook issue.  When I first started my career and a student would tell me that he forgot his notebook, I would give him some paper and tell him to add the notes to his notebook at a later time.  You know darn well that never happened.  But it wasn't my problem, he was the irresponsible one.  Yikes!  Who said that?  Me?!?!?!

Once I realized how important it was for students to have their notebooks I decided to allow them to go to their lockers to get it but it would count as them being late to class.  This wasn't great either.  Some students didn't care that they were marked late and this gave them an extra excuse to roam the halls.  On top of that the students who needed to be in class the most were the ones who were missing the first few minutes of class.

This year I tried something different.  Something expensive.  I used my entire supply budget on purchasing 3 ring binders for each student.  And they stay in the room.

Everyday, before going to their seats, they are required to get their notebook.  One girl's comment was that she wished all her notebooks were this organized.  Before the end of each class I make sure the students have enough time to put the papers in the right place in the binder and to put all their materials away.  If a student would like to take their binder home, they just need to let me know, and I check to make sure it shows up the next day.  Not surprisingly only three students asked to do just that in the first quarter.  


  1. I know of teachers who do this and it is a great idea. My only struggle with it is that all their work is in the room and the student doeosn't have anything to take with them to study or do homework. I know they can take them home, but this isn't the norm. What are you thoughts on this?

    1. I agree, and it was something that I struggled with as well. But I found it to be the lesser of two evils. In previous years, they had nothing all of the time. At least now they have all of it some of the time.