Lately, my attendance has been bordering on the comically absurd. In both my ENG 100 and 110 classes, the students have somehow gotten it in their heads that they can go ahead and miss class after class and only show up when a paper is due. I have combatted this problem in the past by using reading quizzes. I've given a reading quiz every day this week and it has not solved the problem as of yet. I'm at wit's end on this one. It is so frustrating when I walk into my ENG 100 class and I see less than ten students in the classroom. Half of those students were not there last time, so they are not prepared to take part in class discussion. Angry... Very Angry.
Discussion does come in to play a lot in my classroom. I am a creative writer, and I was raised on workshopping. Workshopping requires the critical feedback of the students in order to function properly, so I always look for that feedback. I also, as a result of my creative writing background, tend to imagine the author of the text, whether it be Molly Ivins, George W. Bush or Frederick Douglass, as in the room, so I try to stick with constructive criticism. I don't want to hurt their feelings... not even Bush.
I try and keep the students diplomatic as well. With discussion comes disagreement. I try to push that these are just issues. We are not putting anyone down by saying the opinion is wrong. We are not attacking the person; we are attacking the idea or the argument. Yet, some students have a hard time grasping this, and tend to take some argumentation as thinly veiled personal attack rather than logical debate. I don't want anybody to hate anybody else; that's how wars happen. The best kind of debate is when two people can shake hands and part ways without voicing the fact that they both wish death on the other.
I used a coin flip in class twice this week to avoid showing a bias.