Now that school has been going for a while, students are starting to relax.  They are starting to test the boundaries. They want to see if we really mean what we say.  This is natural and part of being a kid. Part of their job is to see if our limits are valid ones.

One thing my students always test is tardies. Do they really have to get to class on time every day? Well, yes!  We have a lot to learn and very little time in which to learn it.

To encourage on time arrival I do a push and a pull.  The push is peer pressure: If everyone arrives on time, the class gets an extra minute of Preferred Activity Time (PAT ) on Friday. Kids upbraid one another if they do not hustle to get to class. I don’t have to say much besides an occasional “¡Qué triste!” (How sad!).  That push works pretty well because kids do not want the disapproval of their peers. My tardy mark on the attendance report is relatively inconsequential to most of them. They make an effort not to disappoint their classmates, and this push element of the on-time system works pretty well.

Ah, but the pull! The pull gets most of them to class not just on time, but early. I show funny Spanish videos during passing period. Only. When the late bell rings the video goes off, the screen goes up and the students start to work on their daily Repasito, a bell-ringer activity that reviews where we left off yesterday. If they want to see a funny video they have to get to class early. Señor Wooly’s videos are extremely popular ( There are kids from Spanish I classes that walk around the school singing Sr. Wooly’s Billy la bufanda and Soy guapo. Other popular videos are the One Semester of Spanish Spanish Love Song (, and skits in Spanish from comedy shows like ¿Qué hora es? (

I think this technique could work in any class, but it works especially well in a TPRS / Comprehensible Input class where the emphasis is on lighthearted, but real communication in the target language.  It is compelling input and becoming more and more comprehensible with the repetition.  They are acquiring language because they it is interesting and fun and because they do not HAVE to do it.

What do other teachers do to get kids to class on time? I am always looking for more and better ideas.