Ideally, teachers would love to look at their classroom each morning and see every single student in his or her seat — fully accounted for and ready to begin the day. Unfortunately, as every teacher knows, this scenario often doesn’t ring true. Students take sick days, bereavement days and snow days. And parents may extend their kids’ vacations just a tad — thinking that an extra day off or two won’t interfere with the child’s education all that much. 

With this in mind, and since you can’t change the reality of your students' (and your) busy schedules, it’s a good idea to build a few catch-up tools into your daily routine.

One interesting approach was submitted by Pamela Walker, a teacher at Deer Park Middle School in Randallstown, Maryland. She suggests assembling a wall of magnetic clips to hold any notes or assignments that absent students will need. The wall should be something in a hard-to-ignore spot, ideally one that students have to walk by on their way in and out of class.   

“On the side of my file cabinet, I have magnet clips for each class period,” Walker writes.  “When students return from absences, they check the side of the file cabinet for any handouts they missed. To further help myself out, I assign a manager for each class period. The manager is responsible for making sure papers are placed in the clips with the absent student's name and date.”

Face it, sick happens. So do vacations and other intrusions on your students’ class schedules. The trick is in taking proactive steps to minimize the disruption, for you and your students. With an effective system in place, missing class doesn’t have to mean falling behind.