The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Lots of Absences

It is that time of year when a highly-contagious bug is going around the school and it has hit my class especially hard. I had 6 of my 26 students absent today, or nearly a fourth of my class. Such a large number of absences can certainly put a kink in plans to start new projects because I would just have to go over everything again the next day, or have students work in their assigned groups because the absences were surprisingly distributed evenly throughout my room.

It can be tempting to simply declare the day a write-off and fill it with a lot of review and supplementary activities and just hope that the students will all be back the next day. It can be tempting to pop in a movie, kick back, and relax. It can be tempting to avoid the hassle of reteaching the next day by not teaching anything new.

But giving in to those temptations is poor practice and ineffective teaching.

So, instead, today was a regular Monday. We talked about what we did over the weekend, we had a six-minute multiplication quiz, we worked on multi-step word problems in math, we began learning about the major events leading up to the American Revolutionary War, we worked on writing and setting personally challenging goals, we had physical education, and we worked in on guided reading groups and literature circles. All things we would have done today no matter how many students were here.

Sure, I’ll have to take some time tomorrow to go over what we did today, but here’s the trick: I would be doing that anyway. Every day should have a review of the previous day’s learning so that students can make connections and ask questions for clarification. So even though I was missing nearly a fourth of my fourth graders today, today wasn’t a write-off at all. It was a good day!


What do you do when you are missing a large number of your group?


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