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, November 8, 2008

The Plan Worked, I Think

IT is nice when a plan works as well as expected, as well as had been hoped for. I have in previous posts talked about the students in one of my classes and how they just keep talking. My plan was to lower the grade on the first speech each did by half a letter grade and then tell them that I would be willing to raise the grades by half a letter.

When the students came in, I gave them the critiques, with the grades on them right at the beginning. Normally I do not do this until the end of class. If they are given the critiques earlier, they are reading the comments, they are discussing their grades with other classmates, they are frustrated with the grade making it hard to pay attention or they are happy with the grade, also making it harder for them to pay attention. In this case, I have trouble getting them to pay attention anyway, so I figured I would give them back early. In fact, most students stop by the classroom about 10-15 minutes early, put their stuff down and wait in the lobby. So, as they came in early, I gave them the critiques.

It is interesting to see the change in expression on the faces of the students. One student saw a glum looking expression on my face as I was passing out the critiques and asked me, out of concern, if she passed. I told her she did and she breathed a sigh of relief. When she saw her grade, a ‘B’, she was disappointed and expressed her displeasure. A moment ago, she was concerned about failing and now she was upset with a ‘B’.

All the students were not happy with their grade. While I used a harder standard than normal for the first speech, it is not like the grades were terrible. I gave out three “C+’s”, a few “B-‘s” and the rest were “B’s” and “B+’s”, with one “A-“. You would think I failed them all. Still, for a first speech, an introductory course, high school students, I try to take all this into account in grading under normal circumstances.

I then told them if they were to pay attention, to allow me to teach, I would raise the grades by half a letter. One wiseass wanted to know for how long they needed to pay attention and when I told him for the rest of the semester, he (jokingly, I think), said it was not worth it for a half a letter.

I further told them that this was not an individual deal, it was not that for those who paid attention, I would raise their grades and for those who didn’t, I would let it stand. I explained that in order for the grades to be raised, they all half to pay attention.

It seems to be working. They still do some talking, but at least I can get my lectures in, I can complete my lesson plan. Hopefully it keeps up.