How to Survive in Room A100
1. Come on time. Class starts when the bell rings ... not after you finish gossiping. Class ends when the bell rings ... not when your caffeine buzz wears off. I am required by powers far beyond my own small ability to understand to record and report all tardies, absences, and truancies. This I do … religiously.
Familiarize yourself with the rules regarding these issues (as set forth in your student handbook). The consequences for excessive absence, tardiness or truancy are ultimately out of my hands and dealt with by the administration. Detentions may be issued for every tardy after the first at the teacher's discretion. There are also academic consequences to missing class.
2. Come prepared. The most important things to bring to class are an imagination, a decent work ethic and a keenly developed sense of humor. Having said that, you will also find that a pen or pencil, paper, your textbook, and any additional reading or other material that has recently been distributed will also be both required and helpful. Please be aware that things will be useless if left in your locker, car, bedroom, or orbiting the third moon of Planet Xenon somewhere on the outer fringe of the Orion Galaxy. I will NOT give you a pass to go to a locker, or anywhere else, to get something you need but "forgot."
3. Control yourself (ie: Behave!). Anyone old enough to be in middle school knows darn well when they're being a jerk. Moreover, (for most people), it requires no effort whatsoever to NOT be a jerk. If you act like a jerk you will be treated accordingly. (Why this often seems to come as a surprise to people who take the time and effort to be jerks is utterly beyond me.)
The Class Itself
1. You have to keep up with the reading. It will become painfully obvious, rather quickly, who has and has not done the reading.
Especially because people who do not do the reading do not get off the hook when they are called upon .... they just squirm a bit longer, clearly letting me know that they have not done the reading. You'll also note that there is a reading quiz virtually every week of the class. This bit of fascism is designed to encourage you to actually read the material you're given.
2. There is a huge down side to silence.
I keep track of who does, and does not, participate in discussion. Although there is no numerical (ie: graded) downside to not participating, participation does several important things. First off, it makes it clear to me that you understand the material, or are trying to understand the material. Secondly, it makes the class far more interesting for you! Please be aware that participation may be considered for those students that are on the borderline of a grade, and will always show me that you are putting in some effort Willing participation is easier than participation forced by the teacher ... but for my purposes they both work.
3. There is no down side to participation.
You can be absolutely "wrong" about the facts during 99.9% of a discussion and still learn a lot, and still impress me quite a bit. Virtually all of the important questions asked in a history class are very difficult to answer with 100% certainty.
4. You don't have to agree with me.
It is virtually impossible to have a serious discussion of history without referencing all the subjects you're supposed to avoid in polite conversation: politics, religion, violence, and so forth. It should be clear from the outset that I have absolutely no desire to convert you to any particular view. I neither expect, nor want, students to agree with my personal opinions on any given social or political issue. My sole concern is that you eventually arrive at a place where you can develop, articulate and defend your own opinions.