How to Teach Through Extended Student Absences

In the height of cold and flu season, student absences are inevitable. Especially in the post Covid era, numerous days of absences among students are common. Therefore, educators need a thorough plan for meeting curriculum expectations even while student attendance is inconsistent.

5 Tips for How to Teach Through Extended Student AbsencesThe following steps are two fold. First, it will help students not get behind in their studies while resting to regain their health. Second, educators will be able to easily manage the workload of absent students at a moment’s notice.

  1. Create expectations for missed work due to absences– Decide how long students have to make up work, how they’ll access the learning materials and missed lesson, how they’ll turn in their assignments, how you both will communicate with each other during the absence, etc. As the educator, you would film all direct instruction/mini lessons and upload the clips (and corresponding assignments) at the end of each day that a student was absent. (You would only film when a student was out.)  Students can then watch and rewatch the lessons while completing their assignments within the expected time frame.
  2. Design an online platform to keep learning going– Choose an online platform that you can upload videos of your lessons, upload lesson materials, and is a communication tool (email or chat function). This will need to be easy for students to access from home and simplistic to use without tech support.
  3. Explain missed work expectations to students– Have a class meeting to explain the new procedures for missed assignments. Emphasize the importance of learning without getting too far behind due to absences. Students can ask questions about how to manage their missed assignments while recouping from illness or long-term absence.
  4. Train students on the online platform to access missed lessons–  Walk students through the online platform and allow them to play around to get familiar with it. They can submit fake assignments, access pretend learning materials, and ask questions through the communication tool. This ensures students are able to be successful while away from school.
  5. Adjust procedures as necessary– As students are absent and implementing the new protocol for catching up on missed assignments, adjust the system as necessary. Students might need lengthier time periods to submit work, the communication tool might be delayed and not efficient, or the system gets overloaded with all the content on the site. Be flexible and alert students to any changes going forward.

Please note that if students are extremely sick, the expectation is that they rest to get better. However, if students are out for numerous days due to being contagious, but feeling fine, they should begin catching up on missed assignments.

If this post was helpful in providing ideas for how to continue being an impactful educator in the classroom, peruse other professional development resources here to grow your craft.





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About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.