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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I'm back!

In the classroom, that is - since I was on sabbatical last year and then working on CTL stuff in the fall, it's been over a year and a half since I taught my last class. I'm teaching my writing class this spring and I definitely feel rusty. I'm looking at my notes from the last time (two years ago) and trying to make sense of my scribbles, and everything seems to be taking me twice as long as I dust off the cobwebs in that part of my brain. But it feels good to be working directly with students again...

One thing I have NOT missed is having to deal with crashers at the beginning of the semester. The first couple weeks of the spring semester, in particular, has to be my least favorite time of year, both as an instructor and as an undergraduate advisor. My general policy is that I will take almost everyone who wants to crash* AND who shows up for the first class meeting, but that is it. I simply don't give out add codes to anyone who wasn't there on the first day, partly because of the way I structure my classes - with the Team-Based Learning class, I assign teams in the second class, based on a survey students fill out in the first class, and in the writing class, the students already have a short paper due at the beginning of the second class meeting. So if students miss the first day, they have already missed too much. In the fall semester, crashers will beg and whine and try to tell me why they HAVE to have my class but in the spring semester, their begging often includes, "But I need this class in order to graduate in May!" This was particularly problematic when I was teaching the Data Analysis course, which is required for all majors (so if they don't take that specific course, they really can't graduate); less so with the writing class (they usually just need A class, not necessarily MY class) but that doesn't stop the whining.

As an undergrad advisor, it's sometimes even worse because students come see me when they can't get into OTHER people's classes. Of course, I have no power to force any of my colleagues to take any students, but I get to deal with the resulting, "What am I supposed to do now? NO ONE will let me into their class!" The reality is that often, a student is in this position entirely through some fault of their own (like the ones who miss their plenty-early-enough registration time because they were on vacation somewhere, or who waited until their last semester to take all of the required courses that we advisors tell everyone to take before everything else). But of course, that doesn't stop the whining.

I go back and forth between being a hard-ass, telling myself that these kids need to deal with the consequences of their actions (or lack of actions), and feeling bad for them and guilty that I won't/can't do more to help them. I just don't know what the 'right' response is. I always feel a big sense of relief once the add/drop deadline passes and I know I won't have to deal with it anymore. 

How do you deal with crashers?

* For those who are fortunate enough to not know what this means, 'crashers' refers to students who were not able to enroll in a class during regular registration but still want to get into the class. Once the regular registration period is over, the only way into a class is with an add code you get directly from the instructor. In my department, every instructor is allowed to decide for themselves whether to allow any crashers and if they do, how to allocate add codes.

1 comment:

  1. I don't let crashers in because I feel like it is letting the person at the back of the line move to the front, it doesn't seem right to me. Thanks for the musing.


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