There’s nothing more disrupting in the first week of school than the age-old tradition of Add/Drop. This is the brief period of time where
students can drop a registered class and replace it with a new one.
This frenzied game of musical chairs plays out like a swap meet where the only merchandise traded is a syllabus and a desk.
“What will you give me for three in-class exams, a paper and a final?”
“No oral report?”
“I got two seats in a 101 class with a group project and a ….”
“Whoa! Deal is off. I don’t do group.”
“Bro, what do I need to do to put you in this class today?”
“Gimme lowest grade dropped and we got a 3 credit deal.”
I’m not immune to this educational auction that pits the rigors of one course against another. In college, I had a clinical fear of oral
reports. On the first day of class, I’d run in, scan the syllabus and zoom out if the course required me to stand at a podium and emote. How I became a teacher is still up for grabs.
Fast-forward 30 years and my biggest dilemma as a teacher, is whether or not to actually teach something on the first day. Why? Because I
know Add/Drop is going to make a mockery of my roster and I’ll be repeating the same lecture the next week to a new set of faces.
I do teach on the first day for one reason. Inevitably, 10 minutes into the first lecture at least one student’s face contorts followed by
paper shuffling and bodily discomfort.
“Wait – this isn’t Medieval Papal History 1293-1392?”
“No, but I’ll give you an on-line midterm and 2 pop quizzes if you stay.”