A student wrote to ask how I would be grading the 40% of the final grade which is tied to class participation in lew of the problems with my getting assess to the course in the first week and the subsequent problems we arose as a result.
With a few edits for the larger audience, here's my response:
"I rarely grade harshly in the first place."
"Considering the first week and subsequent problems in communication and getting the class going, I'm inclined to give everyone full create on class participation if they've done the formal assignments (the ones due on Sunday), helped each other via collaboration, and done the proofreading assignment this week."
"This means most everyone is at an "A" as of now. The rest of the class grade (60%) will be based on the portfolio you put together. Check the recent posts on the class blog for clarification of the portfolio assignment."
"The truth is, I feel somewhat guilty for the confusion at the beginning of class. Students not having access to the correct class shell was a mistake out of my control, but not communicating with the class as you struggled with the first assignment was a teaching tactic which may have worked well in past sixteen week sections; but, it definitely didn't help the learning environment in a five week course in which the first week was pretty much blown. I'm seasoned enough that I should have anticipated the effect of the changed rhetorical situation or, at the least, given it more thought. Instead, I went ahead and did what worked in the past.
Take the situation as a lesson, namely, you have to pay attention to every rhetorical situation, especially those with which you believe yourself so familiar you believe you can work by rote rather than conscious judgment. The other lessons? Own up to mistakes you make, and try your best to learn from them. This is the reason the last step in the rhetorical process is review. You look at what worked and what didn't, and you try to remember. By the way, it's easy to remember the screw ups, but also remember what worked well for use the next time. Just make sure you remember that every rhetorical situation is in some ways a new one.
It's a credit to the students at UAT and in the class that you were able to work under such difficult circumstances, and the class showed a degree of flexibility I've rarely seen among students anywhere else. In any event, I appreciate the class staying with me.