Tardiness in schools, if left unchecked, can create serious systemic problems. The principal, as instructional leader and manager, must mobilize his executive staff and general staff in such a way as to drastically reduce the incidence of tardiness and protect instructional time. Failure to do so will lead to a marked decline in the academic climate and performance of the institution. Indiscipline will also increase. Administrators must lead by example.
Tardiness is a problem whether it is practised by students or teachers. It usually takes two forms; tardiness for school and tardiness for classes throughout the school day. The school administration must deal with it head on or it will definitely get worse. There must be a clear and strictly enforced policy against tardiness in any shape or form and from any source.
Students must understand the importance of punctuality and how it connects to their future working lives, since the school is also mandated to produce good citizens and workers. Tardy students miss important instruction and get lower grades or fail subjects. They also disrupt the delivery of instruction as they straggle into class late during the first 5 -10 minutes or more of each class. They can also be engaged in misconduct during the unsupervised time before they reach their classes. Those lost minutes may add up to hours of lost teaching time by the end of the term.
According to school policy, tardy students may be warned the first two times they arrive late. After that they may be given detentions and parents can be consulted. They can also be sent to the principal’s office if the problem persists. Teachers can help to solve the problem by starting all classes punctually and giving short quizzes at the start of the lesson. The cumulative marks for these quizzes will count for a percentage of the total class assessment. This would encourage more students to be punctual. Recognizing and rewarding students for punctuality would also be useful.
Tardy teachers open the door to many problems at school whether they arrive late for the start of school or for classes during the school day. They reduce the length of class periods by their lateness and leave students unsupervised for substantial periods of time. These students are then free to misbehave and disturb nearby classes. Fights may break out in unsupervised classes. These teachers may also take too long to transition from one class to another and waste more precious teaching time. Some of their students are late because they know the teacher will also be late. A few of them compound the problems by ending classes before the scheduled time or by allowing students to leave during the last few minutes of the lesson.
The administration must do everything possible to deter this kind of malpractice and protect and maximize teaching time. The tardy policy must be communicated to everyone and enforced methodically. Regular walks around the campus at timely intervals by administrators will encourage all concerned to be more punctual. Professional advice or censure can be given to any teacher who is often tardy. All classes should have time to complete their syllabi.