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.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

You Missed Class, Why?

The other day I wrote about students missing classes for Valentine’s Day. I find it intriguing the days for which students will miss class and quite honestly, it is amazing what students consider valid reasons for missing classes.

I had a student who came into my office to tell me he was going to miss my class (which started in 30 minutes) because he had to bring his car in for service since it was not handling well. I know, first hand, how frustrating that can be. Still, the student was already on campus. Could he really not wait until after my class to bring his car in for service? (There are no classes in session on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-2:00).

Even if he had something else to do, he still is telling me the other things on his plate are more important than my class as the only time he can get his car to the shop is during my class. He, of course, has every right to make that decision, but I have every right not to consider this an excused absence. We often have to make choices and those choices have both rewards and benefits.

Another student came up to me and told me she was missing a class of mine because she was attending another public speaking class, taught by a different teacher, at a different community college. Why was this student missing my class? Her friend, who attended the different college was delivering a speech and she wanted to hear her friend speak. So, this other teacher’s class, apparently, was more important than mine.

There are, of course, time when students legitimately miss class. One student wrote to tell me her fiancée’s mother suffered a heart attack the previous evening and had passed away. The family wanted to all be together the next day. I realize that she is not yet married and I understand that this is an in-law, not a parent, still I am okay with this. I know what it is like and the importance of being there for a spouse, or a soon-to-be spouse when someone passes away. As long as I am not being played and her fiancée’s mother truly did pass away, this is legitimate.

It is unfortunate I even have to put that last sentence there but I have had too many students try and play games. Still, I will give her the benefit of the doubt and accept this as legitimate. If there become additional absences where I am constantly hearing stories as to why they should be excused, then I will check into all of them but at this point, I have no reason to think the student was lying.

Students’, all I can say is, when you miss class, you are sending a message to the instructor. Stop and think what that message is and if you really want to send it.