Thursday, April 17, 2014
Big Thirsty: The conference (re)shuffle
But (you knew that was coming), this semester, about half of the students who had conferences scheduled on the earlier days have emailed, often quite close to the conference time, to ask whether they can reschedule (or, in some cases, to simply announce that they need to reschedule), even though it's clear from the posted schedule that there are no more open slots. So far, I've been accommodating them as best I can, but I'm going to have to stop soon, since there really isn't any more time available (at least not if I'm going to eat and sleep and observe Holy Week and pay attention to the one non-comp class I have this semester). I'm not quite sure what to say. I could start scheduling shorter make-up conferences, but those are going to run over, and probably lead to my writing more comments without the student there (thus getting back to the old pattern of always having drafts to comment hanging over my head). I can say what I said when I handed out the conference schedule: there really isn't room to reschedule, so just bring whatever you have, even if it's only an outline (that was due 2-3 weeks ago, and already received some feedback). But that doesn't work for the students who simply announce they aren't coming, but/and expect to be accommodated later. And, of course, evaluations are coming up, and my contract is up for renewal (again), and there was already one class last semester that wasn't too happy (for some reasons with which I agree, and can address next time 'round, and some which were beyond my control. The weather this semester, which was quite disruptive, and may partially explain the especially high reschedule-request rate, was also, of course, beyond my control).
So, any advice, especially from those who teach classes that incorporate one-on-one conferences on a big project at the end of the term? What do you do when students ask to reschedule? Are you tough? Accommodating? Somewhere in between? Do you make distinctions between the kid who didn't consult the travel plans her parents had made for Easter before signing up and the one who needs to accompany his parents to what I suspect is a truly crucial immigration hearing
-- Contingent Cassandra