Here’s what I decided:
- I will have an attendance policy, with a brief mention of the fact that people who don’t come to class and participate tend not to do well regardless of any attendance policy. They get 3 freebies, and then a 5-point deduction (out of 200 possible points for the class) for each subsequent absence. I will make no distinction between excused and unexcused, except in very dire cases. These cases will most likely involve deans anyways, so they’ll have my back on this.
- There will be a participation policy, but it will be based on some sort of written product (minute paper, questions related to an in-class film, or a written synopsis of an in-class group activity). However, I will incentivize being attentive and engaged (not necessarily talking, but showing a general sense of give-a-shit) by increasing one’s grade by a couple of points if it means the difference between a B+ and an A- (for example). That way, they aren’t penalized for lack of participation, but it means I’m not necessarily going to go above and beyond for those who don’t engage.
- I’m not going to ban technology, but if someone is obviously tweeting/Facebooking/texting, I’ll take Elaine’s approach of noting the disrespect inherent in such acts and leave it at that.
I think these are policies I can live with, because they are clear, reasonable, and enforceable. We’ll see how things go!