Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Early classes, late students

OK, so this academic year just finished, and I'm already onto the next. Making up my reading lists, etc. Also quaking about the fact that I am teaching an 8am class in both terms next year. Ugh. 8am seems really early to me...I've had no experience, as a professor or a student, with classes that started before 8:30. Even 8:30 I found painfully early, in terms of energy levels, etc.

But I will be teaching Monday-Wednesday 8am - my first-year classes, Intro Part 1 and Part 2. My friend who taught in this timeslot this year has been complaining bitterly about it. She says students are half asleep, and/or coming in dreadfully late. She is also vowing to never teach in that slot again. She has me worried.

So I am already thinking about how I'm going to deal with this. This will be a large class - about 80 students in the fall. Therefore, I won't be taking attendance, so I can't use that to ensure promptness. But the idea of 30 students disruptively filtering in while the class is in progress?? Fills me with horror.

Do you have any strategies for managing lateness in large, early morning classes? I could tell them that they can't enter the room more than 10 minutes into the lecture, but that would involve publicly humiliating people the first few times they DID try to walk in. I really don't want to do that. Any less punitive strategies out there? Or should I just suck it up?


Belle said...

Boy, do I feel for you. I've had an 8AM class this term in a field I don't teach (US vs my own Europe). And not only is it an early class, it's a required class, so the students are surly and unhappy to begin with.

I have a rule in all my classes: after 5 minutes, don't bother to come in the door. Period. I've discovered that I only need to enforce it once, and the rest of the group gets the message I'm serious. After that, if they come in late and I eject them, it's all on them.

I do take attendance, but only by passing around a sign-in sheet.

dbm/gaa said...

I second the sign-in sheet idea, and then make it part of their participation mark. Pass it out in the first 10 minutes, then it goes away and you aren't considered present.

Sarah Williams said...

The sign-in sheet won't stop the multiple disruptions from students filtering in late. Nor will it stop students from falsely signing the names of absent others (which invariably happens in a class that large). In an undergrad class I took that started early, 10 mins in the professor went to the door and put a ready made sign on it that said: "Sorry, you're late. Please come back next time!" He made the policy clear at the start of the term, was good-natured but strict about it, and after the first couple of weeks everyone managed to abide by the rule (and few people were late, actually). He also took a couple of seconds to peer down the hall and let anyone rushing towards the door inside. That way you only have one 10 second interruption per class.

Psychgrad said...

Ugh...8am. I don't even become coherent until 9am. I don't know what I would do. Maybe designate the first 30 minutes of lecture to nap time :).

Margo, darling said...

I like the sign idea a lot. I definitely go for punitive with late students, but then, my classroom persona is bitchy and punitive. For big survey-type courses, I use a quick, easy 3-5 question daily quiz in the first few minutes of class, cumulatively totaling 20-25% of their final grade. No make ups. That way they not only have to show up on time, they have to have done the reading. And by easy, I mean, you can ask them the author of the reading for the day. You'd be surprised (or not) at how many miss that.

Maggie said...

I do what Belle does, in all my classes. My students always show up on time.

Also, in intro courses I often begin with a short quiz or writing assignment, that they do first thing, so there's an incentive to get there early and be ready.

Finally, I've been teaching 8 or 8:30 classes for awhile now, and it's not too bad. Often a lot of the kids who sign up are morning people, like me. I've had much worse luck with late afternoon classes, where everyone just wants to nap.

Dr. Crazy said...

I third the brief quiz idea - I tend to do a 5 question quiz that's multiple choice and/or true false. No makeups.

Hilaire said...

Hey, thanks all. I love this forum. I end up with a jillion good ideas within half a day!

I think Sarah wins for the most Hilaire-friendly idea...I also like the idea of tiny quizzes every class, but with 80 students, I don't want to deal with that much paper was the death of me last fall and I've vowed not to do it again. I think the note will be brilliant. Perhaps combined with something else from the bag of tricks you've provided me with. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

If it is a three hour class and a long break is expected, put part of the break at the beginning of class. If you are the type to call on people, you can try this technique. I used to make a point of calling on the last person in the room until someone else showed up and that person was "it". That one was very effective, but I stopped when I found a student waiting for someone else to show up so that she would not be last. At least she wasn't late.