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This Is What I Do When Students Are Late For Class…


I generally don’t have much of a problem with students coming late for class. I think that’s due for a couple of reasons:

* I’m clear with all students that class starts three minutes before the bell rings. Since our school is divided into Small Learning Communities (300 students stay together with the same twenty teachers for four years, and we’re geographically all in the same place) students definitely don’t need seven minutes to physically walk to the next class.

* I think most students just like being in my class (at least, most of the time)

The occasional issue, though, arises for first period and right after lunch.

When a student is late, I ask them to go outside with me and I say something like:

“It makes me sad when you’re not in class at time. I look forward to seeing you. It makes me feel like you don’t want to be here and you don’t like our class. I’m sure you don’t want to make me said, do you? Can you be on time in the future, please?”

I typically say it in an exaggerated tone. And, except for very rare situations (students who face particular transportation or behavior challenges), it usually only takes one time. It actually seems to work best sometimes with students who have major behavior challenges.

It gets the point across clearly, it seems to work, students re-enter the classroom focused on learning, and I feel good about it. Sounds like a win/win.

In many ways, it has similar elements to my “Be Niiiiiicccccceeeee” strategy.

What strategies do you find works to deter students from coming late to your class?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Generally we refer to being on time as a life skill. Employers won’t put up with chronic lates. IF they do, it’s a bad place to work. For me teaching gr. 12, I don’t have a lot of problems with lates. When I have, three lates, especially consecutive, and I take a spare away. If becomes a real problem, I take their open campus. Students value these so it’s usually a good deterrent.

  2. Well, I’m not a teacher yet, but I do agree with the light hearted approach. It works for students who need a little understanding.

  3. I teach writing to ESL advanced at a community college. I have a student who always comes late and always wants to sit in the front row, so he has a way of disturbing the class for about 3 minutes. How can I get him to come on time? We have no procedure to handle this situation.

  4. Thank you for your article, I think i’ll try it should any of my students come late to class. It’s funny how I was at a PD workshop a few months ago and asked this question. The only response I received from others was that I shouldn’t care and just continue to do my job.

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