I’ve never been a fan of policing student behavior in my classes. I don’t take attendance, I’m pretty generous when it comes to late work and making up assignments, and I try to make participation in class something that’s organic rather than something structured and forced. In recent years, this hasn’t necessarily gone well. For example, the undergrad class I’m currently teaching has lousy attendance, and I struggle to get anyone except the 3-4 same voices to contribute to class discussions.
When I was still an undergraduate student at BYU, I took a job as a student instructor for FREN 102, the second half of a two-course sequence in first-year French. I had a lot of weird experiences as an undergraduate student teaching and grading other undergraduate students, but the one that I remember this morning is the time that I held a student’s scholarship in my hand. I don’t remember the student’s name or much about her, except a vague recollection of her face and a couple of conversations with her.
This semester, my efforts to trust students feel like they’re backfiring. I ungrade, but they don’t take work seriously. I never use plagiarism checkers, but I still have to deal with a last minute case. Not saying I’ll stop effort, but still sucks.
I feel like I am constantly fine-tuning how I do assessments in my classes. I want to trust students and avoid policing them, but I’m frustrated when they respond to this approach by acting like it exempts them from attending class and participating.