Friday, September 24, 2004

Repeaters class this semester

This semester I am teaching the section of an English Communication class for students who have failed other sections of the same class. I am teaching this year's class with particular dread.

In the past our department has never had anyone graduate. Our department is relatively new, and this year will be our first year of graduates. In the class for repeaters, I have three seniors or fourth-year students. That means that they have failed this class three times up to now, and are taking it again in order to graduate. I hate that pressure. I was under it several times in Kumamoto when I taught there and I learned some things.

1. Explain everything up front and be as transparent with everything as possible. I already have all of the tests that they will need to pass this semester up on the internet and they have the address for them, as do all the students in my classes.

2. Explain everything again as the need arises. That means when they start to slack off. And keep written records of those interactions.

3. Have everything available for the administration when they come to find out why a student, probably one who has already lined up a job, has failed a first-year English class again.

Since I have never failed a fourth-year student here yet, I'm not sure how everyone will take it. In Kumamoto it was a steady procession of student, administrators, and parents all begging for a passing score. They didn't like my response.

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