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We've all needed good homework excuses at some time in our academic lives. I've rounded up ten of the most convicing. These are the ones that work on me, a high school teacher. Before using them, however, you should consider the following:
1. Know how gullible your teacher is. Some teachers will believe anything, especially new teachers. More experienced teachers are much more difficult to fool and more likely to be bitter and jaded. Experienced teachers have also heard most of the lame excuses you have planned.
2. Know how strict your teacher is. I'll let you in on a teaching secret: most teachers want you to succeed. They want to believe you stayed up all night nursing your sick hamster. Use this to your advantage.
3. Find out if your teacher likes you. I'll let you in on another secret: teachers play favorites. Are you a favorite? If you are, use any excuse you like.
4. Find out your teacher's interests. Here's another secret: teachers love being the center of attention. Why else would they subject themselves to the torment that comes with instructing teenagers? They love talking about themselves. Listen when they do.
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The 10 Best Homework Excuses
1. I got my backpack stolen: use rampant crime among high school students to your advantage. No teacher in his right mind would expect you to turn in that big assignment if it got stolen the very day it was due. Although most teachers won't follow through, filing a missing backpack report might not be a bad idea.
2. My mom and dad got in a huge fight last night and the cops came and I couldn't concentrate on the assignment: Domestic violence isn't something to lie about...unless it's done to save your grade. This excuse works on so many levels: (1) Your teacher will never bring this up to your parents; and (2) you will garner sympathy for the rest of the year. The only way this could go wrong is if your teacher reports this to your guidance counselor and your counselor contacts your parents. That's probably not going to happen.
3. I stayed at my dad's this weekend and left it there and my mom refuses to let me go back and get it: Teachers are suckers for dysfunctional family stories. This is an all time classic.
4. I left my binder in my mom's car and she's at work across town: This is a twist on the easy to see through "I left it at home" excuse. A teacher can reasonably expect someone from home to bring your homework, but not even the meanest teacher would expect your mom to leave work.
5. I was really sick yesterday and unable to do anything. The only reason I came is because I didn't want to miss any more work: Teachers will admire your perseverance and give you the extra day.
6. It's that "time of the month": If you're a boy, don't try this. This only works for females on male teachers.
7. Grandma died: Even if the teacher doubts the veracity of your grandma's death, he's not gonna call you out on it just in case it's true. There are obvious problems with this excuse, including the guilt you'll feel if your grandma does die that week.
8. My dog died and I was too upset to do my homework: This is rarely used, but effective, especially if your teacher has a dog. Only a heartless task master would not cut you a break over losing your best friend.
9. I had to take care of my baby sister who was up last night throwing up: Another underused classic. Be careful your teacher isn't an e-mailer or he just might e-mail your parents for an update on your baby sister who doesn't exist.
10. Tell the truth: This is a revolutionary excuse. Often if you just go to your teacher in the morning and tell him or her the truth, you'll get some additional time.
What's your favorite homework excuse?