I Missed Class... Did Anything Important Happen?
Most teachers I know cringe when they hear the following:
"I missed class... did anything important happen?"
(Tom Wayman wrote a poem about this situation: "Did I Miss Anything?")
A related question:
"Will you please e-mail me whatever I missed?"
I applaud your desire to make up lost work, and will certainly meet with you in my office if you are truly concerned about falling behind. I generally carry extra copies of handouts for a few days after I hand them out, so feel free to ask me for them in class.
My policy is to say, "Get the notes from a classmate."
I don't mean to say that I won't help you catch up, but I would be able to do so much more efficiently if you would first check a classmate's notes, and then ask me specific questions.
On average, one or two people are absent from each class that I teach. If I responded to every such request, I would have to teach every class twice -- once in person for all the people who do show up, and once via a transcript typed up and e-mailed to the absentees. I would rather spend that time in a way that helps me teach all of my students.
"Do I have to come to class today?"
I realize that things happen from time to time, even to the best of students, and I am generally fairly happy to 1) accept a reasonable excuse presented with proper documentation, or 2) let you dig your own hole if you want to. But I still hold students responsible for learning (on their own) the material that I cover in their absence.
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