I left my class today, after letting my co-teacher know of course, to find eight missing students. It was eighth period, and after having taught the class earlier in the day, I knew those students were either in trouble in their last class or straggling in the hall. Either way, seven years of teaching has taught me that nothing good comes of a mass of late students entering at once, without the teacher filtering them in. I cannot stress the importance of meeting challenging students, or simply needy students, at the door instead of allowing them to enter on their own. Energy is real.
I found four of those students in the guidance office, one was being picked up early and the rest trickled in. With ten days left, I am not interested in entertaining an even slightly-rowdy class. Therefore, I am especially preemptive. Meet them at the door, lights dimmed, greet with calm tone and keep them engaged. And when a bunch are missing, go find them if you have the luxury. One student has the power to set off a class, and more than one late student has the ability keep the class off-task for an entire period.