I am in the process of finalizing my syllabi, and there are a few things that I am struggling with. Foremost among these is an attendance policy. As far as I know, I am not required by my department or institution to have one. I had one last year, and it resulted in a lot of whining from the students and a lot of busywork on my part. Frankly, I feel like I have better things to do, like scholarly productivity and finding a real damn job. One possibility that I have considered, if I do keep some sort of attendance records, is the minute paper. Students would have a question about the day’s reading that necessitates a brief written paragraph at the beginning of each class. Write it, and you get points. Aren’t there to write it? No points. Of course, I also think that maybe I just don’t bother with such things and let them suffer the consequences of their decisions. Am I insane for even considering just abandoning attendance policies?
The other thing I can’t reconcile is measuring participation. If they would be required to be there, then I want them to be more than warm lumps of flesh behind a desk. However, my intro classes are fairly big by my institution’s standards (30 students), and learning their names and faces will take time. So how do I accurately assess an individual’s class participation without driving myself crazy?
The other big issue is my technology policy. I have always forbidden cell phones, but I am considering either banning laptops/iPads or mandating that those who use them sit in the front row. At the same time, I see that these tools could be useful. Is there a happy medium?
To be honest, I want my teaching to take up as little of my time and energy as it can so that I can focus on more big-picture concerns. Oh, and not drive myself crazy. That sure would be an improvement over the spring semester’s experiences. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I am not entirely convinced that I need to be devoting my energy to such things. If they want me to put in more effort, they need to invest in me and give me job stability. I need to find a job, and no one is going to do it for me.