Attendance=Presence=Accountability=Respect to course instructor, classmates, and future clients
The attendance policy is a critical component of my course design. By being a student, you have already agreed to abide by codes of honour and basic university standards of conduct. You have accepted that your enrollment is contingent upon upholding rules, such as those on drugs and alcohol. All such policies require your support for a simple reason: They are the foundation of an effective learning environment. This document is designed to help you follow attendance policy of the university and create an effective learning environment in all my classes both online and in person.
Schools of Social Work around the world has a social mandate to ensure that graduating social workers are caring, skilled professionals who are worthy of the public trust endowed upon them. In fulfilling this mandate, the Schools of Social Work have developed comprehensive programs of education and experience to ensure that graduates meet these high expectations. Unlike non-professional education programs, where students can pick and choose their education and experiences based on personal preferences, CASWE accredited Schools of Social Work requires students to attend and participate actively in all components of the program to meet rigorous accreditation standards and become the best social workers they can be. When the University confers the Social Work degree, it attests to society not only that the student has shown successful examination performance, but that the student has participated in the entire educational experience defined by the School and has thereby demonstrated an appropriate level of professional learning and responsibility.
In my courses, all students are expected to demonstrate high levels of both academic and professional integrity. Such integrity is shown in part by a commitment to and attendance at all scheduled classes, and course discussion activities. If I teach in an online learning environment and attendance to live sessions is not mandatory I create an alternative assignment that allows students to demonstrate their learning of course material who unable to attend live sessions. For example, students are required to make a critically engaging post to reflect on their learning after watching live session recording when they unable to participate. The same expectation is embedded in classroom learning. Students who are late to class or entirely miss class are expected to demonstrate their presence and accountability to other class members through completing additional learning activities via course discussion board.
I encourage full attendance at my classes for a number of reasons:
1. The university expects students to attend all scheduled classes. Social work is a professional program, and professional conduct is expected in all aspects of the program, including attendance. Much modelling occurs in the classroom and being present is an expectation for all classroom activities to become the best social worker possible.
2. Social Work program has a limited admission. Selected students have been admitted to the program when hundreds of other applicants were not given an opportunity to be part of the learning due to limited class space. I remind students that they are required to attend every class to maintain the expectations they set in their admission statement that included punctuality, accountability and presence.
3. When students do not attend regularly or miss class time without acknowledging their absences that can mean that student might not be ready for professional practice. In professional practice, students are required to be present, accountable and attend to the needs of their workplace and specifically to the needs of their future clients. Clients will expect that their social worker to demonstrate professionalism in their practice.
4. If a student does not plan to attend scheduled classes, consider switching to online social work program and do not take the limited classroom space from students who need to attend classes to be successful in their learning journey.
5. The less one attends classes, and prepares for those classes, the less one learns. Moreover, in general, the less one learns, the lower the quality of classroom contributions, which harms all the other students in the class—not just the student who misses class.
6. When students miss class, they miss out on the opportunity for a deeper understanding of a topic. Students miss the chance to ask questions, learn from their peers, and show us where we may need to slow down, speed up, or retrace particular elements of the course content.
These are some of the key reasons why I encourage all my student to be present in all course learning activities. Here are some tips that can help the student to be present and accountable in their learning journey:
• Arrive promptly and attend class by the scheduled course hours; If the class is online with no mandatory attendance requirements try to attend live sessions if possible.
• Respect the individual right to engage in class discussion without monopolising “air time”; If you spoke once, allow other students a turn until sharing your ideas again.
• Respect individual learning needs by avoiding activities that distract from a productive learning environment such as side conversations, eating noisy or aromatic food, and frequently coming and going from the classroom. Remember you are not alone in class, and your behaviour will impact others, so be mindful and enhance the learning environment by your presence instead of hindering learning for others.
• Conduct oneself professionally at all times and refrain from behaviours such as swearing, shouting, bullying, or intimidation. Follow the golden rule in all class interactions: Treat others as you want to be treated.
• If you are on call, make sure your cell phone is on vibrate. Also refrain from inappropriate use of computers (i.e., games, emails, and website searches) during class-time as other students should not be exposed to your interests when they are learning new material. Also remember that texting, after all, is a micro-absence from class.
Please know that each student remains responsible for all the work and class activities they miss, and for ensuring that student completes enough work to demonstrate professional skills, values and knowledge in each course. Each student must weigh the importance of reason for being absent from the potential for adverse fall-out for the student. Also be mindful that in addition to class attendance policy each student needs to review the School attendance policy as if a student misses a certain number of classes (2 to 3 depending on the School) for any reasons they will need to re-take the course to demonstrate their full attendance in next offering of the course. Keep learning, stay present, accountable and respectful of all course scheduled activities.