By Jennifer Kidd
I have been feeling frustrated lately. We are in the home stretch of the semester and instead of hunkering down and working hard my classes seem to be imploding. Attendance has been down for several weeks now. And most often the students don’t bother to contact me about why they are gone.I am finding that when they do tell me court is involved. What happens at the end of semesters that students need to go to court? I seem to have several every semester.
The students who are going to make it are sticking with it. I have one class that has 6 on the roster, 5 that are still coming to class, but 3 that are always in class. The 4 of us have wonderful discussion of the reading we are doing for class and they are coming in with the work done for the research paper that we are working and it is great. The 2 that are still coming but not attending well are not doing those things. I am confused as to why. The research paper is planned out. They had a week to find their topic and sources, another week to work on reading the sources, note taking and planning a rough outline. Then a week from that (next Monday) about half of their paper is due for a spot check.From there the schedule tightens and they have to have a rough draft ready for Peer Review 2 days later(Wednesday) then the full paper is due 2 days later (Friday). That completes the big assignment. I lead them along every step and I still seem to have lost them. Is it me or is it them? I wonder what more I could have done. I have even given them reading free weeks of class, plus library days to work on the paper and still…
This is where I get frustrated. We are constantly reminded that retaining students is a priority,but I feel like there is only so much I can do if they don’t want to be retained. I review in class, but it doesn’t help the ones who need it if they don’t come. I offer my office time, but few take me up on it. I give that library time, but the ones who really need to make the best use of it often don’t. I email them reminders, and they don’t check their email. I email them back and they don’t check back on their email. I know we have to lead them through, but if they aren’t there or checking in there is only so much I can do. And this happens after I warn them at the beginning of the semester that some will do this.
Well, this whole gripe session makes me think that I really need to make a concerted effort at mid-term and maybe before to see how my students plan to stay on track to finish out the semester. I am not sure how to do that though. I have thought that conferences might be the trick, but I have done them before for points and the ones who really need to be there don’t come. I need something that I can do in the classroom where they are if they did come to class that day. I have thought that I would do some kind of self-evaluation related to their grade and how they can keep if where it is if they are happy with it and what they need to do to improve it. I had considered this in the past and the semester got so busy that I didn’t do it. I think that I really need to build 2 weeks of the semester around this,maybe at week 6 and week 12 or 13 to keep students on track to finish.