Good Bye, Mrs. Nice Gal

OK, people, enough is enough. I rarely get angry with my students but now I’ve had it with them. More specifically, with my 3 pm section. Every Friday, up to 70% of the class is absent because it’s sunny outside. Or it’s raining outside. Or it’s cold outside. Or it’s warm outside.

I can’t change my syllabus and stop teaching on Fridays just because these folks are more obsessed with the weather than Miss Marple. I introduce important material in these scheduled lectures but they don’t show up and then expect me to repeat the same stuff on Monday.

So now the next quiz in this section will be based in its entirety on the material we have covered during Friday lectures. And if 70% of students get a zero on the quiz, well, oopsie daisy. And a third of the final exam will cover this material, too. Coupled with a failed participation grade, quite a few people who need this course to graduate will not be attending the graduation ceremony in December.

I see myself not only as a teacher but also as a pedagogue. If this is the only way to teach people that in the world of adults actions have consequences, then so be it.

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13 comments on “Good Bye, Mrs. Nice Gal

  1. Why not hold all your quizzes on that Friday session, with no repeats available? Also, for future years, why not allocate 10 per cent of the grade to class participation and additionally state that any student who misses more than three classes without a medical note will forfeit 25 per cent of the total earned grade.

    • The participation is 15% in this course already. But scheduling the quiz for a Friday is a great idea. The review session for the final exam will also take place on Friday. Hee hee hee.

    • Be careful with this suggestion. Due to a chronic disease I have, I had a bad incident with it; I had to go to the hospital. One effect of the incident was a black eye, mild concussion, and a large laceration on my arm. Now, clearly, I had been injured. And yet such signs being blatantly obvious, I had to go to my family doctor and get a note saying I had medical reasons for missing midterm 1. Even the instructor agreed that I had a legitimate reason, and apologized for making me do this, but it was the policy of the institution, and therefore I was required to waste my doctor’s time getting a note. Such a medical excuse policy with overly literalistic enforcement may therefore result in unintended consequences like what happened to me.

      • I NEVER ask students to provide excuses for absences and NEVER refuse to give a make-up test. I can guarantee that nobody can be more flexible, understanding and laid-back than I am. But if I routinely see an almost empty classroom when I have 26 students registered for the course, I start getting annoyed. In my other section of the same course, everybody is always there, participates, is engaged and interested. In this section, though, they simply fail to show up every Friday.

  2. People think I’m mean, but attendance is required (and taken) in every class I teach. If you surpass a certain amount of absences (usually two weeks of class, so 4 for TH classes and 6 for MWF), then you automatically fail the entire course. If it sounds harsh, I don’t care. I know of no job that you can do a no call/no show even once and keep that job. Students need to grow up! And better to do it in a low-stakes environment than in a job.

    • I also tell my students (both orally and in the syllabus) that just sitting there in class silently will get them a zero on the participation grade. In a foreign language course, they have to speak. Every single class. Still, many don’t understand this and get a shock when they see their final grade.

  3. You shouldn’t get so upset when adults make choices which end up in them repeating your class. Look at it this way, if 1/3 of them have to repeat next semester then you have a class which is 1/3 bigger.

  4. It was about time!

    Send these irresponsible students an email remembering that attendance is key to be successful in your class. Such email may be useful if they formally complain about their final grades.

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