Wednesday, February 08, 2006

attendance and "can I *please* do a make-up?!?"

Here's what I do. I essentially have a zero-tolerance policy for unexcused absences, "because the work we do together in class is impossible to truly replace--if you miss it, it's gone." Absences are only excused if (a) there is contact from student to TA or professor *in advance* of the deadline (email works well for this, as it's time-stamped) and (b) if there is a doctor's note or other documented major emergency. I don't believe that permitting unexcused absences helps our students learn that choices have consequences.

Having said that, we still have a good ly number of absences--usually, because students at this Uni often have to travel for concert tours which are important to our recruiting. In the case of these or similar excused absences, I set a single makeup time, which is *outside the regular class schedule.* Typically this is a Tuesday or Thursday morning at 7am, as classes at the Uni begin at 8am.

This does a couple of things: it almost completely obviates schedule conflicts, which are the single hairiest part of scheduling makeups, and the thing I most resent doing--I don't think it's our staff's obligation to cater to idiosyncratic individual schedules. Moreover, it cuts down on "semi-voluntary" absences: if a kid knows that a makeup will require getting up at 6:30am in order to stumble into a 7am makeup session, s/he is much more likely to make the effort to get to the originally-scheduled class.

Moreover, it rewards the ones who truly want to excel: the hard workers are also, typically, the ones most likely to be willing to get up early.

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