|1. Deal with me straight up. What do I need to pass this class?|
|2. Do you have a strict attendance policy? Do I flunk after three absences? What does attendance have to do with those feedback cards?|
|3. What happens if my essay or homework is late? Should I even bother turning it in?|
|4. You have this weird revision policy. What is it, and how does it relate to late essays?|
|5. Why make this revision policy? Most teachers don't allow us to revise and if they do, they give us the averaged grade. Why such a liberal revision policy?|
|6. Do you give extra credit?|
|7. I am a shy student. I'm not used to asking for help from my teachers. What should I do?|
|8. My work schedule sucks. I have to prioritize my work over my schoolwork. What am I going to do?|
|9. I can't finish the class. Someone got sick / Work is just too demanding. Should I stick it out?|
|10. Mr. K's BOTTOM LINE|
|(more to be added later)|
1. Deal with me straight up. What do I need to pass this class?
To pass this class, you MUST complete all FOUR major assignments and final exam at a C-level grade (70+). You cannot do three essays, then skip the last one. The department sets these four major assignments as course competencies, so skipping one or more indicates a failure in completing the competencies. COME TO CLASS REGULARLY. People who skip class have a tendency to miss out on important lectures and exercises. You should also do your homework consistently. I have had students who didn't do an OUNCE of homework, and even though they did the major assignments passably well, they failed my course. All in all, DO THE WORK, and DO IT WELL.
2. Do you have a strict attendance policy? Do I flunk after three absences? What does attendance have to do with those feedback cards?
My attendance policy is not strict, but I can tell you that attendance plays a crucial role in your success in this class. I do not flunk you after you miss three classes or if you have eight tardies, etc., but participation in class and writing in-class exercises amounts to 10 to 15 percent of your overall course grade. If you skip class routinely, you are probably impairing your chances at getting a higher grade in my class. If 60 percent of your grade is locked up in the essays and you neglect the other 40 percent of the class (homework, participation, final assignment, etc.), then it's logical that you attend to the other 40 percent as well. Infrequent attendance usually indicates that a student will not PASS the class. My feedback cards or in-class assignments are not designed to keep watch over who is tardy or absent--they are meant to give you a voice and means of communicating with me, especially for those of you who might not want to ask certain questions in front of other students.
3. What happens if my essay or homework is late? Should I even bother turning it in?
You should turn it in. You might still get credit for it. Late work is penalized a third of a grade for(-3) every legal class day that it is late (excluding weekends). If a grade is deserving of an A+ gets turned in three days late, then it usually becomes a B+ grade. There are exceptions to this, especially when the assignment is exceptionally well-written. If your piece is very strongly-written, a borderline masterpiece, then I may waive the late penalty. If the work is sloppy, looks like it was written hastily, or simply reflects little effort, then the late penalty applies. Late homework cannot be revised. Missing a draft is not a good idea, because you will potentially lose valuable peer or instructor feedback. You will receive a permanent (-6) of your final grade for the assignment for missing a draft/conference day.
4. You have this weird revision policy. What is it, and how does it relate to late essays?
You can REWRITE every essay for this class, provided that you meet the following criteria: 1) the paper is turned in ON-TIME, 2) you TRY to meet with me at least ONCE to discuss how to improve your essay, 3) you make significant changes to the paper (not just simple grammar and style errors). You get the higher of the two grades (they are not averaged together). In other words, if your revised essay deserves a 99 instead of a 65, I will give you what you deserve--you'll get the 99. If your essay is late, say, if you procrastinate and turn it in a month late, your grade may stand, or will receive a permanent late penalty.
5. Why make this revision policy? Most teachers don't allow us to revise and if they do, they give us the averaged grade. Why such a liberal revision policy?
Life is about REVISION. Revision means that we look again at ourselves and our efforts, checking and double-checking if we 1) worked hard on something, 2) if we could do better on that something. I think we can ALWAYS improve, and I am willing to reward you for such efforts.
6. Do you give extra credit?
Yes. You can earn extra credit by writing up Summary and Opinions of scholastic events such as lectures, plays, poetry readings, or other performances of an educational nature. You probably won't earn the equivalent of a full homework assignment (I usually give 10 Homework points for extra credit), but it's still worth something in terms of your homework grade for this class. Your summary and opinion should be interesting. You should tell us what you saw or experienced, and provide us with a deep analysis with what you got out of the performance. Here's an example of a poor extra-credit assignment: "Yeah, I went to this poetry reading. It was lame. I drank coffee and fell asleep, then I went home. The end." You probably won't receive any extra credit for such a Summary and Opinion.
7. I am a shy student. I'm not used to asking for help from my teachers. What should I do?
Get over that shyness as soon as possible. One of the greatest indicators of college success is a willingness on the part of students to actively solicit help when they need it. Word of mouth via students is often flawed: "Hey, did you do that reading response? I think it's supposed to be 8 pages in length!?" If you are really frightened of having individual conference hours with me, you can set up a blog account and leave me messages, or email me on a confidential basis. The blog is the preferable method, because I don't enjoy having my email inbox filled to an extreme degree.
8. My work schedule sucks. I have to prioritize my work over my schoolwork. What am I going to do?
The best you can do is at least to LET ME KNOW what's going on. If you disappear and don't say a word to me about things that are happening in my life, I cannot be FLEXIBLE. I like being FLEXIBLE. I may not be able to give you extensions on your work in an effort to be FAIR to the other students, but at least I'll be aware of what's going on with you and your life.
9. I can't finish the class. Someone got sick / Work is just too demanding. Should I stick it out?
If you DO NOT withdraw from the course by (the final day to withdraw from full semester classes) and you REMAIN in my roster at the end of the semester without doing the work, I have to give you a failing grade. No-shows at KCC (people who NEVER attended class or people who steadily disappear from class) are given F's. My bottom line is this: If you can't complete the work to a level that is satisfactory to me or to you, then you should withdraw before the deadline. A W grade does not negatively impact your G.P.A.. An "F" certainly does. If you are getting "D's" on all your late work and essays, then you should probably withdraw. If, on the other hand, you are earning "A's" on everything and still managing to balance the demands of work and family with school, stay in the class. I'm sorry I can't give you a more definitive answer...but that's how it is. Your decision to attend this class and withdraw from this class if need be is your kuleanaand it is completely your decision, not mine.
10. Mr. K, so what's your bottom line? It's hard to figure teachers out, how they think, how they see the world? What is your bottom line when it comes to my education?
This is my bottom line: I try to be flexible while demanding excellence from you. I know it's hard to be a college student, and I know it's hard to be a college student eating ramen, making ends meet, feeding crying kids, getting called in at short notice to work overtime, dealing with personal and familial drama, just doing one's best to get through a hard day's work. At the same time, if I gave you an A for shoddy work, an A that you didn't deserve, even an A you know you didn't work hard enough for, then I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror and say, "Kubota, you helped somebody today." I feel I help people when I can be HONEST and PROUD of you when you've earned that A, not when I gave you an A out of pity or charity. Your education is a privilege and a responsibility--the HEART of... kuleana,...and as such, I give good grades as a mark of your TRUE efforts as a scholar and individual. In the rather blunt words of poet Taylor Mali, "How dare you waste my time with anything LESS than your best."