Thursday, February 05, 2015
Snowy Days and Mondays
Wise and worldly readers, have you seen reasonably elegant workarounds to use when snowstorms stubbornly insist on picking the same day of the week over and over again, even after you’ve politely asked them not to?
You don't have a mailing list for each section, or mass-announcement with e-mail backup in your LMS, or at least student e-mail addresses in your campus enrollment management system? Wow. I can't remember when we couldn't e-mail an entire class, including before the start of the semester. Admin also uses it to fore-warn students if a class has to be canceled.
As for your main question, the only elegant solution is to empower individual faculty members to deal with it as befits the needs of their specific classes and bring to you any cases where they think administrative solutions (rescheduling?) are necessary.
You might have to start thinking about having those classes meet during spring break if you lose 20% of the semester.
I had a similar (but not as serious) situation where we lost the equivalent of a full week by losing two separate days, and that resulted in a major drop in learning even though it was in the middle of the semester. (Actually, the middle of the semester could be worse than just starting late like in your case. Your students don't have anything to forget.)
Using lab time for lecture is not an option, since there are lab course objectives which need to be accomplished as well.
My concern is that the students who are in prerequisite courses are not going to master the material they need for the subsequent classes, and we'll be seeing the effects of this snow well beyond this semester. I will be reading along to see what others have done or are planning to do.
So what really, really matters to that next class? That is where to place your focus, and there is probably a lab you can do without (or blend into a discovery approach "lecture" class) to do what you need to do.
In my experience, continuity of learning (see comment above) matters more than missing or deferring one particular experience. I'd decide that day if lecture needed to be in place of lab that week and the lab shifted or skipped.
Dean Reed appears to have a calendar with 15 weeks of class plus finals every semester, but my college does not. Our semester varies from 14.0 to 15.0 weeks (plus finals), so we already decided what lab or week of material to omit from the shorter ones and how to work around Monday holidays or fractional weeks. That process helped us figure out what else we could trim when an emergency intervenes.