The first assignment was due today and it went really well. I had each student introduce their definition of freedom (I had them do a simple google search and then asked them to respond to that definition they found and either alter it or expand on it in some way, or even critique the definition). Though many students chose a similar sounding definition, their interpretations varied greatly and the discussion that I organized for the time after everyone presented went very well. Most students responded very positively to the assignment, so this is definitely something I will do again.
Still, I had two students not turn in an assignment. The first excuse was “I wasn’t here on Friday.” The second excuse was much more dramatic and would be what I would term a “human interest story.” I won’t go into specifics, but I am certain he was lying. My response to his emailed human interest story was simply stating that he can email the assignment, and should, as soon as possible. He will still receive a deduction in grade for not being in class (after all, presenting the definition was part of the assignment), but he should at least make some effort to turn it in, at the very least, which he didn’t try very hard to do.
So it goes, as Vonnegut would say.
Just remember if you teach, don’t focus on the one person who tries to make your teaching life miserable. Focus on all the exceptional students who gave wonderful responses and participated in an amazing discussion today.