General Question

Yeahright's avatar

Teachers: What to do with tardy student?

Asked by Yeahright (2762points) October 22nd, 2017

This student (F) has been very problematic from day one.

Last Friday, he was not in class and other students said he was going to be late. I never leave my students alone—specially when he is in class; but I really wanted to go to the restroom which is right across my classroom. I left my students working on an assignment. It took me 3 mins. tops. When I returned to my classroom everyone was very quiet doing their work. So, I walk in, lock my door and sit behind my desk.

A few minutes later, one student says: Doesn’t the room feel very quiet? I said: it certainly does. Why is that? she says, could it be because F is not here? I said: sadly, it seems that way.

All of a sudden, from the corner opposite from my desk jumps F with spread arms like an eagle pointing his finger at me yelling at the top of his lungs Gotcha!!!! In what? said I, when and how did you get in the classroom and where is your tardy pass?

He produced his tardy pass and said See? See? See what F? Said I, you are not complying with class rules when you sneak in and hide and wait for the “right moment” to make it known you are in the classroom.
More stuff was said but that was the gist of it.

Can you please throw in your two cents and give me your opinion on the situation and what I should do. How to proceed?
What should the consequences of his action be?

I’d appreciate all the comments…I really need help. I have a parent conference on Monday morning with F father.

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50 Answers

Yeahright's avatar

Forgot to mention this a small class of 13 students. They are mostly juniors.

ragingloli's avatar

Collective punishment.
Everytime one pupil misbehaves, punish the whole class. This will motivate the class to discipline the delinquent themselves.

“Private Pyle has dishonored himself and dishonored the platoon. I have tried to help him. But I have failed. I have failed because YOU have not helped me. YOU people have not given Private Pyle the proper motivation! So, from now on, whenever Private Pyle fucks up, I will not punish him! I will punish all of YOU! And the way I see it ladies, you owe me for ONE JELLY DOUGHNUT! NOW GET ON YOUR FACES! ”
– Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, Full Metal Jacket

Yeahright's avatar

In a way F is not the only culprit because he couldn’t have hidden in the corner if the other students would have told on him.

zenvelo's avatar

Rule for teachers #1 – NEVER discuss a student’s behavior with another student, especially to a whole class.

ragingloli's avatar

Even more reason to punish the whole class. How about a pop quiz with material you have not covered yet?

Yeahright's avatar

@zenvelo it is not his behavior alone. It was a situation that not only involved him, but the whole class. But of course, he is at fault more than the others.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Your language skills prevent me from taking you seriously as a teacher. Chronic tardiness is cause for suspension. Talk to your principal or headmaster.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Sometimes a labelled person as “tardy” etc will act out or avoid routine.
Is he bored with your teaching style.Does he have needs beyond your understanding?
Is he immature in using childish behaviours?
Perhaps he is trying to entertain the classroom?
Is he hyperactive and needs an outlet?
Realize that most professional Comedians started out as the class clown.
The stress in his life is causing him to find an outlet to relieve this in your classroom.
You as a teacher could instill FUn ways to learn and participate in groups.
He could very well be highly intelligent and feels misunderstood or perhaps responsible to lighten the atmosphere of the classroom that relies on rules too much perhaps?
He needs understanding of his needs and all Education is not for everyone.
Find out which is HIS best style of learning that produces success for him.

Yeahright's avatar

@MollyMcGuire My language skills? Can you elaborate on that?
He is not chronic tardiness, it is his first time. The problem was not being tardy but sneaking in, hiding and jumping on as an eagle and pointing at me yelling, etc.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Given your question history, it seems you have difficulty controlling disruptions in class, and establishing authority.
I get the impression you allow yourself to be intimidated by your students.
A teacher’s job is to teach, but books can do that.
Most students won’t open a book just because it is there. So if you simply teach, the students will not always be responsive. A teacher must be engaging. A teacher must find ways to catch the imagination of their students. At the same time, the teacher must be viewed by the students of being in control, of their lesson plans, of their time, of themselves. If you seem disorganized, or awkward, they will not have much respect for you.
Are you still teaching Spanish?

Yeahright's avatar

@Patty_Melt Although I appreciate your taking the time to answer my question, I am afraid you have not.
This is general and questions have to be more on the practical side.

I need advice and recommendations essentially on his behavior and what consequences should his behavior have. Not for being tardy, since he followed procedure and produced a tardypass; but rather as to the intimidating body language, yelling, etc

zenvelo's avatar

@Yeahright You ask for a practical answer to your question: as @MollyMcGuire said, talk to the principal or headmaster.

You have characterized him as ”...very problematic from day one.” But you are the teacher, why has this grown to the point where the class is now supporting his acting out?
He needs referral to the appropriate administrator for suspension or detention, along with a conference with his parents.

Yeahright's avatar

@zenvelo Suspension or detention based on what offense?

I am meeting with his father on Monday…and I wanted to know opinions on the offense as such and what the consequence should be.

Soubresaut's avatar

It’s hard to tell from the details, since I wasn’t there, but it sounds like he just might have been trying to make a joke and get you to laugh?

It would depend on context cues that you have and I don’t, but that’s my knee-jerk read of the OP. I can easily imagine a high schooler trying to make a joke out of the fact that they were late as a way of trying to diffuse tension (whether actual or perceived). If you’ve made comments in the past about him not being to class on time, he might have been waiting for you to say something similar that day so he could then pop out, as if on cue. I would imagine that’s why one of the other students made the comment they did—the whole class knew the joke was taking too long to happen, and so they were trying to help it along. (Because the longer it went on, the less funny it would be when he did emerge). He might have executed the joke a little awkwardly, too, which made it read oddly?

Again, maybe it was different in context. When I was in high school, that was the kind of humor that a lot of the students and teachers had. So that’s coloring my perspective.

If it’s not appropriate, and it sounds like it wasn’t, I would probably talk to him, quietly, when he’s on his own about why it wasn’t. But if this was a one-time thing, which I’m understanding it to be, I wouldn’t make a bigger deal about it than it was… especially since I’m guessing it was supposed to be a joke, but didn’t land. Because of that, I don’t know that he’ll do it again. Depending on the student, and how it played out, he might feel embarrassed about it.

Does the school have a tardy policy? Usually something happens after x number of tardies. I’m not sure if there need to be consequences on top of that, unless he’s consistently being disruptive when he enters….

And if that’s the case, then I’d probably try to talk with him. Do you have that kind of rapport with him? Can you develop it? If he’s being disruptive when he comes in late, work with him on how to come in quietly. Maybe make sure his desk is one that’s easy to reach when students are seated, and doesn’t require him to cross in front of the classroom. If he usually needs to grab papers or give you the tardy slip before sitting, maybe talk with him about finding appropriate breaks in instruction to do those things (or even leave extra papers on his desk in anticipation). In this case, you’re just trying to keep his entering late from distracting the class as a whole. These kinds of efforts may also help you establish a baseline relationship with him on this issue, so you can then work with him on arriving on time—figuring out what’s causing the tardiness and trying to help him develop strategies to address the cause?

Yeahright's avatar

I would probably talk to him, quietly,… I will never talk to him without someone else there. I don’t trust F, he might manipulate the situation and make stuff up.
Usually something happens after x number of tardies. This is his first time. It is not about him being late, it is about the jumping, yelling, pointing his finger at me.
I want it to have a consequence but not sure what that would be for him as an individual and/or for the entire class.
I want to prevent this from happening again.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would talk to F ‘s parents about homeschooling. F doesn’t need to be punished, but rather helped in adjusting to the rules finding a better fit.

Zaku's avatar

Juniors, as in 16–17-year-olds?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, for crying out loud! Detention! I’m a teacher. I’ve had nutty kids. Some of them made me laugh because they were just being nutty and were otherwise good students. Some of them pissed me off because they were being jerks, and received some sort consequence.
I can’t believe you are so lost about what to do. This is his first time. Talk to him, tell him it wasn’t appropriate, and if it happens again he will have detention.

How long have you been teaching?

Also, it English your second language?

Yeahright's avatar

It is not my place to suggest something like that. It would have to come from Guidance I guess.
He is a Junior, he is in ROTC as well. He is just an ill intentioned individual who is overbearing and has a lot of issues.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Yeahright Sorry I thought F was a young child. 16 is unacceptable if your student doesn’t learn to show up on time he won’t make it to college and will be stuck at minimal pay jobs and frequently fired. I skipped 88 days in grade 7 and It was discovered too late that I had a mental illness. Can you refer F to a psychologist for testing, or at least the guidance counsellor?

Yeahright's avatar

Detention will not do with him. And detention based on what exactly?
I am not so lost. Just want other people’s perspectives so maybe someone comes up with something creative that I didn’t think about before.
English is my third language…why? [you forgot the verb in your question ;) ]

Patty_Melt's avatar

Her verb is there. It is a typo.

Yeahright's avatar

Yes, I can. I just do not want to involve too many people since I do not have enough time as it is to get my lesson planning done. But will involve guidance if he doesn’t stop his nonsense.

Yeahright's avatar

I think he is 15 to be precise.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Detention for acting out!

You keep giving conflicting descriptions of him. “He’s been a problem since day one.” He’s “well intentioned.” Is it possible that what he did was really funny, but it was lost on you?

If guidance hands out consequences, talk to them before you talk to the parents.

Do your lesson planning at home.

Do you teach in the US?

Yeahright's avatar


Detention will not do anything to him. I know him.
I’ve never said he was well intentioned but rather the contrary.
Already have parent conference tomorrow morning. We’ll see what happens.
My time at home is for me and my husband, not for school. Although, here I am working from home on Sunday…oh boy!
Yes, I teach here in the US. Things like this are easily solved in other countries. Not so here because here it is usually the teacher’s fault not the students’.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sorry. You did say ”Ill intentioned.”

No, it is usually the student’s fault, but the parents blame the children.
Talk to guidance. Talk to other teachers. Talk to the principal. Just see if you can find him a place to go just to get him out of your classroom. You have 30 other kids to worry about. To hell with him. If he fails, it’s his problem.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Yeahright's avatar

I know that it is the student’s fault most times, but in my experience, they always blame the teachers and administrators are not that supportive all the time and side with parents.
I will talk to the principal if he continues with his disruptive behavior. But I have to follow procedure. First talk to parents.
I wish I could get him out of my classroom but I don’t get to decide that.
The class is small. There are 13 students.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Not trying to be cruel, but maybe you should consider letting F go , and focus on the students who want to be present. He is almost an adult and when the ship sinks you help as many as you can. You can help those who want to be helped first. When F realizes that you are not rewarding bad students with attention , but rather good students then he might come around.

Yeahright's avatar

I do want him gone…so that I can concentrate on teaching the other kids. But again, it is not something I can make happen. It needs to come from parents or admins.

Soubresaut's avatar

The conversation kept going as I typed all of this out! Maybe it’s not relevant anymore, but I thought I’d post it anyway.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking with him alone, you don’t have to talk with him alone. You can ask another teacher to be present. Or his guidance counselor. Or, if it’s more serious (or depending on the school or your relationship with the principal), you can have the principle present. Or the parents, since you mentioned you’re meeting with them.

You mentioned he has been a problem from the beginning of the school year. Has it been other instances of him jumping, or yelling, or pointing, or getting very large with his body language? I feel like I’m not understanding the situation.

What have you done or tried before now?

I would start with the least consequential response and work up from there. You only want to do as much as necessary to quell the behavior, and help the student develop habits that will serve him better in the future. (And if there are underlying issues that are causing him to act in these ways, help him address those issues. That doesn’t necessarily mean you are the one he’s working with—if the underlying issue is beyond the scope of your class, it’s probably the role of the guidance counselor.)

I would still recommend talking with him—with another teacher/his guidance counselor/the principal/etc. present—to establish communication between the two of you. If you believe that his behavior will continue to be disruptive, I would then talk him through the progression of consequence that will happen if things continue the same way they have been. First a, then b, then c, etc. That way he knows what will happen, and it’s not a surprise, and it doesn’t feel like something you’re just putting on him. Make it clear that you are on his side, and you will do what you can to help him, but you also cannot continue to have such-and-such behavior happen in the classroom—and that’s why the consequences.

Because I don’t know your classroom setup, it’s hard to think of in-class consequences for the behavior. I don’t think a consequence should just be about punishing someone. I think it should be a natural fallout of the behavior… So, for example, I went to a high school that required teachers give participation points in class (I didn’t and don’t like that system, but that’s another thing entirely). If the student is being continually disruptive, that might count against his participation points for that day. It’s a system that can be handled quietly rather than in front of the class, so you avoid the unpleasantness of a confrontation for both you and the student. But you would need to keep an individual dialogue with the student to let him know how the points fall and why, and I would establish some silent signal so he knows when his behavior is a problem in class—a warning signal, something to remind him before points are taken away and give him a chance to adjust on his own. Or if your school allows this, you might have a silent signal that tells him he needs to take a few minutes outside to cool off and return (you may want to run this idea by your principal, depending on the school). I would still recommend trying to establish a line of dialogue with the student and understanding what’s causing his behavior, at least as much as you can. Because if the behavior is about him being agitated for one reason or another, finding a way to give him time to cool off is probably a more effective strategy that simply docking points. Or if the behavior is about seeking attention or affirmation, then the best strategy would be to find ways of minimizing the response he gets from the unwanted behaviors, and finding ways to give him attention for positive behaviors… Because, again, the goal isn’t only to get him to stop the unwanted behaviors. The goal is to help him develop better habits.

If the issue continues to escalate and you are out of productive ways to deal with the issue within the classroom, then the consequences would fall to the school’s policies on misbehavior—and that will vary school to school. But this would be part of what you lay out to him as the progression of consequences. (And you would give the less severe responses time to work before progressing to something more severe).

(It’s might also be worth considering how to make sure the response is consistent for future students who are disruptive… Not that the response needs to be identical for each case—some responses might be better for some students’ circumstances and not others—it just might be worthwhile to make sure that you can give a response of equal weight for similar situations.)

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Yeahright Sounds like you can’t do anything that would help you. Maybe there is no solution and a no win scenario? You could choose to do nothing until the student moves on in the end of the year. Sorry but somethings can’t be fixed. : ( You can always run for trustee and change the rules. Sounds like you are chomping at the bit to help this kid. Sorry but F might not be savable without breaking the rules yourself. ROTC might straighten him out. I would just appreciate the time you have together and not be another parent who rides his back.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 You don’t quite understand the problem. Just ignoring him allows him to continue to disrupt the rest of the classroom.
I don’t understand the lack of your own control. I’ve never been in a classroom that I couldn’t send a student to the principal that instant. OK, there was one and it was hell. I vowed not to accept a position in that building if it was offered.
Maybe you should consider teaching in a different building?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III What are her options? I’m hearing that she can’t do anything without consent from administration. In that case doing nothing is the only option. Maybe she has to let this years crop go rotten and try again next year. Its not her problem anymore. She can always write a book and change the system or go into politics. All we I can do is to provide @Yeahright with moral support. @Dutchess_III Sorry .

Dutchess_III's avatar

That is so wrong to waste 29 other students because of one. I would start keeping a journal and take that to the principal.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III Good idea. I might lurk for now on with this thread .

Yeahright's avatar

I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to give such complete constructing advice and all is relevant because I am putting in writing a few points to take to the conference with me.
You mentioned he has been a problem from the beginning of the school year.
He has been a problem because he interrupts class all the time and finds fault in everything. He focusses on the negative not on the positive.
I have talked to him about his behavior before and also the ROTC Sargent, F and I have had a conference, but he didn’t comply with agreements that were made in either of those meetings.
I am taking note of all the strategies that you suggested and will try those that I have not tried yet.

Yeahright's avatar

I am confident that the outcome of tomorrow’s parent conference will result in a change in behavior, or at least as a stepping stone in escalating his case to the principal.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Get his schedule, then confer with his other teachers as well as administrators. It is essential that you document his behavior. Keep a journal with dates, times and descriptions of episodes. Meanwhile, if for whatever reason you can’t bend him to reason, warn
him of consequences, and evict him to the office with the next infraction.

Yeahright's avatar

We just don’t send students to the principal in this school. We send them to ISS. But as I have said before, I want more.
My class is not a 30 student class but 13. So when he disrupts it is really noticeable.

Yeahright's avatar

Yes, I am keeping a record of his class behavior and disruptions.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was in one school where we weren’t allowed to send kids to the principal. It was hell. I had no back up and the students knew it.

I am surprised his ROTC officer didn’t take steps. Usually they’re pretty strict about behavior, at least they were when I was in HS.

13 or 30, honestly the class size doesn’t make disruption more or less noticeable. BUT you did say a the outset it was only 13. My bad. AHgain!
Good luck.

Yeahright's avatar

You have all been wonderful and of great help. I will keep you posted on how tomorrow’s parent conference goes.

Inspired_2write's avatar
a website devoted to Teachers and Student Problems.

Teachers and students are in a relationship, each with his/her own responsibility.
To move toward greater professionalism, teachers must make certain they have fulfilled their part in the teaching-learning relationship.
A beginning point might be to ask the question:
When Is Student Failure The Teacher’s Fault?

Dutchess_III's avatar

The answer to “when is student failure the teacher’s fault?” is when EVERY student in the room is failing, failing to understand the concept, failing to understand the questions.
Otherwise it’s the student’s/parent’s fault.

Yeahright's avatar

Update: The meeting with F’s father went well. He said that he raised F by himself and that his son’s personality is like that. He apologized for F’s behavior in my class last Friday and said that since F was in first grade he has been hearing the same complaints from teachers and administrators. He said he was going to have a talk with his son, but that if he didn’t improve his behavior in class that I could go ahead and talk to the principal. He says that he thinks that the only way F is going to change is when life catches up with him. He looked defeated. F was OK in class today. I told him that if he causes any interruption again, I will write a referral.

stanleybmanly's avatar


Dutchess_III's avatar

Good work there.

BTW, what subject do you teach?

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