the nyctf guidebook, as well as our adviser, touted the no excuses classroom environment. your class should be set up so the students have no excuse not to do their work. always have extra supplies available and all the resources they need to succeed.
using my own common sense (having forgotten about the no excuses mantra) i set up a homework chart in my room. all the assignments with final due dates are posted, as well as a folder with any make up work and handouts. i was sick of students telling me "i was absent, i didn't know i had to do the work!" of course i penalized them anyway, but i didn't want them using that as a crutch anymore.
i just instituted it this week and i've gotten at least 30% more homework than usual. the makeup sheets are going like hotcakes. anyhow, one student came into my room after school today asking about an assignment that he was absent for. i directed him to the HW chart and folder, the first he'd ever seen of them. he stared at it for a minute, took what he needed and then said "no excuses!"
i flashed back to my summer training and knew that i had unintentionally acheived what they drilled into our heads. not only did i know my students had no excuses, but they're starting to realize it too. this job is really tough, but i'm starting to see good things happening.