October 1, 2009

First week of discussion sections

This week is the first week of my TA sections. I taught three sections this afternoon, and I will have three more sections tomorrow morning. My first sections went well. My students usually like me when they meet me because I have generous section policies. I don't grade their attendance. I allow them to switch section times whenever they want. I encourage them to bring coffee and food, and I make sure they know that I am not offended when students get up to take restroom breaks.

The last policy comes from an experience I had in college. I spent most of college on a medication with nasty side effects -- and without going in to details, I had to take restroom breaks more frequently than most people.

One day, in my sophomore year, I got up in the middle of a lecture and left the room. The professor was one of my favorite professors, and I felt very awkward about getting up in front of everyone, but I didn't really have a choice. After class, my friend told me that while I was out of the room, the professor stopped class and spent several minutes ranting about how rude I was -- and how they should never, ever get up in the middle of lecture.

I was mortified, and after it happened, I spent many other classes not paying any attention because I was staring at my clock and agonizing over whether I could make it another 20 minutes. I promised myself that if I ever became an instructor of any kind, I would make sure my students knew it was okay to get up in my class.

This policy is rarely abused, especially because class is only 50 minutes -- and they are free to skip class entirely if they don't want to be there. But when someone does get up in the middle of my class, I am glad that they don't have to worry that I'm angry. A three-second distraction is not going to ruin my class.


  • All good policies for making the class a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for learning. I get disgusted when professors seem to think that it is their duty to play parent rather than just deliver the material, and in this case not a very good parent! Why not talk to you after class if he had a problem?

    I have really bad tendinitis in my hips and I have to stand and move around at least every 45 minutes or so. Both my masters and my doctorate were commuter programs and the classes ran from 5 hours each in my masters to 3 hours each in the doctorate. EVERYONE had comfort items of one sort or another and everyone did various stretches and so forth. I even thought it might be interesting to do my dissertation on what people needed to have with them when they traveled alot to feel secure.

    I'd LOVE to be your student!!!

    By Blogger Mamabeek, at 10/3/09, 8:20 PM  

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