Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Professor's Epic Email Response To a Tardy And Entitled Student

Like most faculty, students coming late to class bothers me - it disrupts the class, interrupts my train of thought, and in general causes a negative externality. In previous years, the problem seems to have gotten worse - in some classes, 15% would wander in after class has started. So this semester, I borrowed a page from a colleague's book. He teaches law for our B-School, and is a former partner for a major Wall Street Law firm. He's very formal in class, is known throughout the school as a fantastic professor, and a bit of a hardass (formal, but a hardass).

So now, whenever a student walks into class late, I merely stop talking in mid sentence. I then quietlty wait until the student is seated. At this point, they're usually embarrassed. I continue waiting they have their book AND pencil out. Of course, the spotlight on them makes them extremely uncomfortable. I don't ream them, don't make any faces, comments, or do anything else - merely ask "Are you ready now?" Then I take up right where I left off. It's kind of fun, and I don't have to come off like my usual sarcastic self. It seems to work pretty well - late arrivals have really dropped off this semester.

But this guy (Scott Galloway at NYU) just throws them out if they come in late. A student got the treatment recently and sent him a (to my ears) somewhat entitled email. Galloway give him an epic reaming.

Read the responses - they're classic (particularly the David Mamet references). If you have any favorite techniques for dealing with late students, feel free to share.

Of course, as they say in the ads, "your mileage may vary".

HT: Craig Newmark (who gets it)