[The Spring 2021 semester seems to have been the most challenging for my students of any in my 20+ years of college teaching, and I know for sure it was the most challenging for me. I’m not gonna pretend I have clear reflections or lessons I can take away from it, but what I do have are striking individual moments that reminded me of why we do what we do in the classroom. So this week I’ve highlighted a handful of those, leading up to this crowd-sourced post with other moments and reflections from you all—add yours in comments, please!]
Responding to Tuesday’s post, Lauren Kerr-Heraly tweets, “Nice post. I think videos are a great way to model writing. I showed this and we had a great conversation after (in chat then digital breakout rooms) about the misrepresentation of Cherokees by the U.S. government as a way to justify removal.”
“One of my important take-aways from the third semester of pandemic teaching is my decision to abolish late penalties and accept all work whenever it is submitted. Previously in my freshman seminar, I had one-page response papers due by 7:00 a.m. for my 10:10 a.m. class. I usually was able to grade all of these response papers before teaching that day, so these papers gave me a good sense of the questions students had about the day’s reading and how to direct the conversation. In previous semesters, I did not accept late response papers, because they did not help me prepare for class. As the students turned in 25 of these assignments, missing a few did not impact that percentage of their course grade significantly.
This semester I accepted late response papers. First, the students did not take advantage of this flexibility—most students turned in their work on time. For the students who turned in their response papers late, I learned that my flexibility was incredibly helpful. One student (whom I will call D) took a full course load and worked nights to pay tuition and family expenses. D returned to the dorm after midnight and needed to decide which work to turn in before going to bed for his few hours of sleep. Many of his response papers were late, but he also wrote more than the one required page—at times he wrote 3-4 pages, single-spaced! Despite turning in late work, he was extremely engaged with the course. He will pass the class because of my flexibility. If I had not allowed the work to be turned in late, D would have failed the class—an outcome that would not reflect his understanding of the material but would reflect my course policies instead.
In the fall, I may add this option to my courses: The Late Work Explanation Form. Dr. Lindsay Masland of Appalachia State U writes: ‘Remember my Late Work Explanation Form? Where students can submit ANYTHING let as long as they tell me? Some profs were concerned it would be overwhelming to manage. Results are in! I had 500 assignments to grade. 8.4% came in late but at some point during the semester, so I was able to grade those as they came in. Many were submitted before I even started grading. 2.6% came in on the last possible day. That's only 13 extra things to grade right now.’”
Next series starts Monday,
PS. Other Spring 2021 moments or reflections you’d share?