In my classroom, I keep folders for all of the extra worksheets, permission slips, letters and other paperwork that is handed out. They are in a holder at the back of the room (near the turn in basket). Each folder is a different color and labeled with a day of the week.
When I have handed out a new paper, I put any extras in the folder for that day. This keeps all of the papers somewhat organized, and allows students to access what they need. In the past, I tried to put papers for absent students, with their name on it, in a spot to hand back when they returned. However, I would inevitably get busy, forget to do that, and some poor student would miss an assignment.
By keeping the extras in a folder, the students know just where to look when they return from being absent. Missed school on a Tuesday? Check the Tuesday folder. Missed Wednesday through Friday? Check all three. This is also handy when a parent requests homework for absent students – I simply pull from the appropriate folders and all of the assignments are ready to go.
This puts the responsibility on the student, instead of on me. It’s very easy for them to keep track of what they have missed, and they can each get what they need. Since students are absent on varying days, for varying lengths of time, this keeps me from having to remember each absence.
In addition to helping absent students, it also helps those students who lose a paper. I usually run 5-6 extra copies, which allows them to get an extra paper without involving me. This eliminates excuses for not having the correct assignment.
Each day, when I put fresh papers in the folder, I remove the past week’s papers. (On Monday, when I place papers in the folder, I remove the old Monday papers). I used to empty the folders on Friday (since our deadline for all work is Friday), but this became an issue when a student was absent at the end of the week. By leaving the papers in the folders for a week, it assures that students have plenty of time to retrieve what they need.
This system makes it very easy for everyone in the classroom (including special ed teachers who team with me). Even other teachers are able to stop in and find the papers needed – for instance, if a parent stops for work and I’m not available. It’s also useful during the Undone Club, since students can get a copy of missing work and complete it. Any time I can remove students’ excuses, it’s a good day!