Proffies can be snowflakes, too (not that this approach doesn't sound tempting, especially with our annoying start--stop for Labor Day--start again schedule).
This happened to me every Fall term of my undergrad. What a strange coincidence.
I don't think I've ever had it happen (or done it). Now I'm feeling less guilty about the "consultation day" I'm contemplating inserting into my syllabus to deal with a scheduling oddity which has left me with one more class period than on the old syllabus (and one -- mid-semester -- day which I know students are extremely likely to skip). Of course, one can always argue that a day of flexibility can be useful if illness, weather, etc. cancel another class.
I learned this lesson a few years ago. That first week of classes is precious, and if you do it right, it carries you through the whole semester. Let them go early, or cancel a class, and you let them know they can slack. Walk into class, pick a name off your class last, and ask them a question about the topic before you even hand out the syllabus, and you send a valuable message that you are a bastard and they should drop the class as soon as possible. I hope I can come off as enough of a hardass this first week that half the class drops. That'd be delightful.
I accomplish this goal with my patented syllabus quiz. It goes like this: You very sweetly point out on the very first day that your syllabus explains how says that anything covered in readings or during class time is eligible for unannounced assessment in class at any time. Which = pop quizzes as a permanent possibility. Their eyes get big for a second, then they look you over and decide you don't have the guts to follow through with this plan. Mention it at least twice. Maybe even three times. Always sweetly. Assign the syllabus as part of the official reading for the next class date. List it on the LMS, put it in the course schedule, make the assignment to RTFS as official as possible. Then, on Day 2, hit them with a pop quiz that ONLY covers the main points points and policies from the syllabus, meaning the stuff that they are always asking about halfway through: attendance policy, how to handle medical excuses, grade weights, etc. Thing is, the syllabus quiz does not have to be even slightly difficult, or designed to trick them in any way. I usually do a 5-question MC quiz in which two or even three of the 4 possible answers are patently ridiculous; only the dullest knives in the drawer score 4/5, and NO ONE goes lower than that. But the sheer terror in their faces when you ask them to clear their desks for a quiz on the REQUIRED READING that is/was THE COURSE SYLLABUS...my friends, THAT makes them sit up a little straighter, take better notes, and Not. Fuck. With. The. Prof. for at least the first six weeks, sometimes even the whole semester. Admittedly, I haven't done this in a while because of the structure of my current department; the element of surprise is absolutely key, and since our students are very tightly knit, they talk to each other about things like this so that "secrets" or "surprises" do not stay as such for long. But since I'm on leave this fall, to be taking over in spring the second half of a course others are covering for me this term, I am determined to revive the syllabus quiz at least this once just to make sure they know who's boss.
I hope the prof of the final tweeter is in a crucial year of her tenure bid, or on the job market . . .
Well said, everyone. I'm sort of shocked by this.
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