Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Doctors Appointments?

For the past few days I have mainly been ranting about attendance and what is an excused absence. This can be a thin line but often times students just look to take advantage. I am curious to get some feedback on one particular situation in terms of whether or not readers of this blog think this is legitimate and should be an excused absence.

I have had some students tell me that they have missed class because they had a doctor’s appointment. To complicate matters more, often times I am told they are not the individual who set the appointment; either spouse or a parent did it and they may not have known in advance that the appointment was made (that is what some say).

I have mixed reactions. If it is an appointment then it can be made for another time. If the appointment is made during my class then the student is saying that doing something else during my class time is more important than showing up to my class.

On the other hand, I do not want my students getting sick because they forced themselves to attend my class when they should have been getting check out. I also don’t want students who are truly ill feeling like they have to push themselves to show up to my class. Still, this can be made fairly obvious. Last semester I had a student who had attended every class, always volunteered to speak on the first day and often times skipped other family or social events (it would sometimes make it into the speech delivered by this student) to be in class. One day when this student was scheduled to speak, I got an e-mail saying the individual had strep throat and was extremely apologetic about missing class. Based on an entire history, it never even entered my mind that this was anything but legitimate (and it was, and was the only class this student missed).

Still, I prefer not asking or prying for information about a doctor’s appointment. Not all students are comfortable talking about why they are seeing the doctor. I do recognize that sometimes if you are in pain, you want to see a doctor as soon as possible. I know what it is like to have a toothache and agree to take the first available appointment regardless of when it is, so when I student had to cut out early on a three hour class to see the dentist because of a toothache, I understood.

Like anything else, I think there are times when it is legitimate to skip class to see a doctor and times when it is not. Still, if you prefer not to ask why the student is seeing the doctor, how do you know where to draw the line? And, if you do ask, it still can lead to questions about where you draw the line.

So, I ask you, what would you do?