I cannot stress enough how important it is to attend this class. Although there are a variety of projects and assignments you will do in this class that are important, these assignments are only a part of what I hope you will take from this four week experience.
You will hear me stress understanding process is as important as product.
You will hear me stress the importance of building a class community.
You will hear me stress the importance of reflection and evaluation in the learning process.
At the end of every semester I try to send a note to every student. Here is part of a note a sent a student who did not understand the importance of getting an "education" as opposed to receiving "training," and who had missed a number of classes.
"Here's where I think we disagree. I think your philosophy might be that in a college course all you have to do is complete assignment and that is it. If you end up with an acceptable product, that is all you have to do. You did , ultimately end up with OK products.....not anywhere near outstanding products, but OK products.
In my opinion, when you do this, you are making the class a "training activity" and not the "educational experience" a college class should be. Taking a college course should be much more than a training activity....and I try to make it so.
As far as class projects and activities are concerned, it is important that the student really spend time looking into what he/she has done, reflect on it, constantly evaluate it, make corrections and make it better. The class schedule allowed opportunities, activities, and time for everyone to do this. Unfortunately, you didn't give yourself the time or opportunity to do so.
In a course like this, you should also work hard at understanding the process as well as the product and understanding the value these applications have to learning. You should take part in all class activities, evaluate other projects, be a member of the class community, and share ideas with one another. You didn't do much of this at all.
There were at least three days where we did class activities for a major part of the class. For whatever reason, you missed out on all these opportunities.
You rarely made the first 15 minutes of any of the classes and these were the times when I led discussions, shared my thoughts with students and had them share theirs with the class. You missed out on this opportunity.
I do think you have made accomplishments in this class and that you have learned some things that might be helpful to you in the future.
I would be interested in your response to what I have said.
Is there anything I could have done to make this clearer earlier in the semester?
You are a bright, intelligent person and I wish you the best in the future. Make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities you are given.
Let me know if you want to talk."
I also ask my students to comment on "attendance" at the end of the semester. Almost without exception, these are the type of responses I receive:
"Attendance is very important in all classes, but especially this one -- it is all hands-on and it would be very difficult to do these assignments (and learn the others things we did) if you did not attend class."
"Attendance is one key factor in this class.....Being among other students is really important, because we help people as they help us, too."
"When a teacher has to take time to catch a student up, it often takes away class time from the other students...and that is not fair."
"This class, with many of the activities we do, needs to act as team. Everyone needs to show up in order for the team to be successful."
"On days when we are doing group activities it is important that everyone be here."
"Attendance is of the utmost importance. Most of the students in this class are in the field of education and being friends and establishing relations is important down the road."
"You miss the little, but very important things when you are absent. I think you don't everything you should out of this class when you are absent."
"I feel that missing a day of class or even coming in late or leaving early hurts you and shows a lack of respect towards your teacher and your classmates."
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