Interactive Syllabus

As I mentioned in an early SPARK, the first week of classes can be very monotonous and mechanical.  We give the students the syllabus, expect them to read it ( some are about 15+ pages long!) and sign it.  I suspect most students jump to the last page and answer a few questions about the syllabus/course and sign it.

I teach English Language Learner (ELL) courses.  These are non-tuition bearing courses, so without students having any “skin” in the game, tardiness and absenteeism were becoming an issue in my courses.

I decided during the first week of class, the students would have input into the attendance portion of the syllabus. I was nervous the first time I did this as I was unsure what they would create for their attendance policy.  However, I was pleasantly surprised how professional the students were and detailed in their policy.  Below is a “typical” attendance policy the students come up with for the class:

Attendance Policy- Students may be absent two times in a semester as long as it is an approved absence.  Approved absences are illness, child is ill, car accident, car problems, work, or a death in the family. Students must email the instructor if absent.

Tardiness Policy- Students are considered late if they are more than  10 minutes late to class.  Two tardies will equal one absence.

Since the students created the attendance/tardiness policy, I really do not have to enforce it as they hold each other accountable.