Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Changing tactics for late students

My classroom stress has dramatically dropped off, since I only teach a few hours per week. I am allowed the luxury of not having to commit to students for long periods of time, so I may as well make that short time pleasant for all of us. One constant obstacle is absences and tardies.

coming to class 4/5ths of the time
is all we ask...
Attendance is a big issue for international students because our governments expect students to go to school. If students don't meet these expectations, they are expelled, and sometimes deported. This puts everyone in an awkward position. After arriving a few days before class begins, our students have a really short time to figure out their new schedule and lifestyle. At the same time, teachers have to deal with constant interruptions, and the staff have to issue warning after warning to notify students of their attendance percentages. As a teacher, it is really easy to show you're annoyed at late/absent students for the stress of getting them caught up, but I think the real detriment is that the class misses out on their input.

American classrooms rely on students' comments and ideas, and I don't know how many of our international guests know this. That's right, we don't just need your money; we need you! The easy choice might be to hope that the laggards are kicked out so that the attentive hard workers can go on undisturbed. This is my biggest struggle as a teacher of ten years. There have been countless times when I wished all the losers would melt away and leave me with the winners. But, that's not only unfair, it's also lazy of me.

People need time to figure out expectations. I need to be a better communicator in making students feel their active presence is important, rather than simply shaking my finger and warning them about the dire consequences. This, with my teaching and other entertaining skills, will give my students a  much sweeter experience. 

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I am one of those people that uses the word  perfect subjectively. I think something is perfect if it does what it's intended to do ...