Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Alvin from Arlington is Anxious About Attendance.

Years ago I stopped taking attendance. It never made any sense to me. Students who appeared in class regularly and took part did well on essays, tests, and projects. Those that didn't, well, didn't.

I tell my students this. I tell them that they're on their own as far as coming to class, but that material is discussed in class that they can ONLY get here. They run the risk of missing important details of the class if they choose not to come.

And for the most part it's worked out.

But this past year or so it's gotten out of hand. I'm running my classes about 50% full most days. Students drop in on the Tuesday but not the Thursday, or skip a whole week and come back happily with, "So, what happened last week?" Now, I'm not giving in, or making it easier on them. They just simply don't come and are suffering lower scores on tests and projects. I don't get it. They don't even seem particularly perturbed by it.

Yesterday, with the biggest essay of the semester due in a week, I had scheduled a special day where an English professor colleague was going to come to our class and talk about ways to organize these papers. I had 6 out of 20 students, even though I'd stressed how essential this info would be for us.

It's truly information that can't be replicated for them, because I'm not asking my pal to come back again for those folks who don't come to class.

Nobody's complaining. Nobody in class even seems to give a shit, but I know they're missing crucial stuff, and don't know what else to do. Should I keep attendance? I don't want to. I think it's stupid. I don't want to feel like a babysitter. Yet, it's bugging me that my students aren't getting the experience they could be. Am I supposed to save them from themselves?