By Erik Hofmeister
It seems like each school has a distinct way to handle students who arrive late to class. Some schools lock their doors, some have you do pushups, some have you wait until you’re recognized to join class, etc.
Students should know when class starts, and should plan accordingly to arrive in time to be dressed, aware, and ready to go by the class start time. Sometimes, the instructor may not start class on time since they are waiting on brand new students, a student is fulfilling a dojo responsibility (like filling the water), or some official business needs to be conducted before starting class. However, class should NOT start late because of an individual student’s tardiness. Therefore, it is each student’s responsibility to be on time.
Some people work 9-to-5 jobs. That’s great, and I admire the fact that they have a consistent, reliable, regular work schedule. That has been, and probably never will be, my own experience with work. As a professional, work ends when there’s no more work to do. If we did a great job getting cases done, it might be 5:30pm. If we had a lot of emergencies or someone didn’t show up for work, it might be 7pm or later. Therefore, I have acquired a significant sense of flexibility when it comes to students arriving at class. As such, I have a simple policy:
Are you late to class because of something outside your control (work went late, flat tire, etc.)? If so, come in, bow, and join the line below the lowest rank there until the instructor revises the lineup (usually after warmup). If you are late to class because of something within your control (fell asleep and forgot to set alarm, forgot uniform, had to get one more block in Minecraft), then come in, bow, and do a number of pushups that you feel is the appropriate punishment for your lapse. This requires the student to take ownership of their tardiness and allows them to set the punishment they feel is appropriate.
At the end of the day, I never want a student to NOT come to class because they might be late, even if being late is due to their own decisions. I would rather have a student be 10 or even 20 minutes late than not come at all. Not coming at all begins the slow decline of out-for-a-week-out-forever.