It’s rare for me to post two days in a row, and it’s rare for me to post something short and sweet. Let’s say it’s a rare day, then.
These past couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing that thing that lots of teachers experience this time of year on uni campuses everywhere: a marked drop in attendance in some classes. I was particularly surprised this morning to find 12 students missing in my modern theatre class, as it was a very special day: we had a Skype visit from the First Nations artist Tara Beagan, and the class had prepared for that visit in advance, posting a number of excellent questions for Tara to our class blog. It was a chance to talk to a working Canadian artist about all manner of stuff, not limited to the reading; it was a chance to listen rather than talk a lot (also rare in my classes!); and it was a chance – most important – to experience something fun and different. Worth getting up for, right?
Hmmm. Apparently not so much. Or not for everyone.
So what’s the issue? In the spirit of my post last night, I’m going to start by assuming it’s not me, it’s them – that it’s about stuff going on in students’ lives (midterms, papers, angst in general about workload), not really my business. But that prompts another question: HOW do I get students to come to class, regularly and on time, despite this stuff? Because it is THEIR JOB to come to class, after all. And because I know it is possible – I have a valued colleague who never has serious attendance problems. I know she’s dynamic in the classroom like me, but she’s also a bit of a hard-ass, and there we differ.
Is hard-ass-itude required to enforce attendance? Is there another or better way that you have found to ensure students come to class, without openly penalizing them or calling them out if they don’t?
Help much appreciated,