Students Who Are Chronically Late to Class

Students who display a passive-aggressive personality style may do so in a variety of ways … from chronic tardiness to sleeping in class. Let’s look at the student who’s always running late.

As you know, some students are late to class on a regular basis, and in doing so are probably displaying a form of resistance or defiance—and it is wise to see it as such.

When questioned about their habitual lateness, students are apt to justify or excuse it on the grounds that they have other tasks to attend to, such as child care or job responsibilities that preempt punctual class attendance. Many instructors are thus made to feel guilty and are thereby disarmed by such reasons or excuses. They allow students to talk them into considering these excuses as authentic extenuations.

If this sounds familiar to you, here are a few opinions on the subject to consider.

  1. Arriving to class punctually is an important responsibility borne entirely by the student, not the instructor.
  2. Although child care or job responsibilities are clearly time consuming, and when combined with the demands connected with attending college can be downright overwhelming, it is again largely the responsibility of the student, not the instructor, to decide which takes priority — one’s job, one’s child care responsibilities, or punctually attending classes.
  3. Lateness is often a rude and disruptive form of behavior, especially when it is accompanied by doors opening and shutting, loud noises, and students distractingly passing in front of the instructor to get to their seats.
  4. Habitual lateness to class, much like when friends or family members habitually arrive late for social gatherings and usually infuriate us because of their thoughtlessness, is typically a sign of devaluation of and contempt for instructors and other students who have arrived to class punctually. Even more important, it is most likely a sign of devaluation and contempt for one’s own education, albeit unconscious, since the student’s habitual lateness will necessarily curtail his or her time in class and cause the student to forfeit important opportunities for learning.
  5. Instructors who habitually arrive late to class themselves are poor models for their students and should find any reasonable means possible to correct this form of unprofessional behavior.

by Bonnie Snyder.

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