from ENGL 110: Writing a Good Life, General section themed around wellness, Jessica Jones
“For many instructors, to see race is to reinforce a racist social system that has historically marginalized people of color and given unfair advantages to White European Americans (WEAs) in our society. In their attempt to give every student equal footing in the writing classroom, many instructors posit that they do not see race, claiming, ‘it does not matter if my students are Black, orange, or polka-dotted, they are simply students.’ Even though colorblindness advocates for a merit-based system, it rarely works to the advantages of people of color. As Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and others have shown, the colorblind ideology is false. Moreover, adopting a colorblind perspective in the writing classroom does not mean that all differences are insignificant. Rather, a colorblind perspective usually translates into classroom practices that build upon and bestow neutral WEA students’ cultural, linguistic, and racial knowledge…despite its meritocratic intentions, the colorblind logic inconspicuously reinscribes the status quo” (Octavio Pimentel, Charise Pimentel, and John Dean ,”The Myth of the Colorblind Writing Classroom: White Instructors Confront White Privilege in Their Classrooms,” 109)
Having a flexible policy for late work might be one way of moving away from a colorblind mentality to acknowledging that all students are not on equal footing in the classroom, as encouraged above. I used the below late work policy in the Fall of 2020 for an online, synchronous general section of ENGL110. In the policy I do not penalize students for late work and work with them to make a new deadline when they are unable to turn in an assignment on time. In so doing, I try to allow students room to articulate their needs without reifying them into identity categories and making assumptions about these needs for them, as Stephanie Kerschbaum warns against in Toward a New Rhetoric of Difference (2014). This late policy attempts to give students the benefit of the doubt and agency in their learning process. It also gives them the structure of a deadline, without the penalties. Although I designed this policy specifically for the context of the pandemic, I would also now use it outside of this context.
Absence and Late Work Policy
Since this is such a hands-on, student-centered class, we miss you when you are absent! Moreover, our class discussions and the activities you will do each week are all designed to help advance your own writing process, working in smaller manageable chunks towards generating larger writing projects. If you miss a class, or do not stay on top of weekly tasks, the work starts to pile up and it becomes hard to catch up. That being said: we are in the midst of a global pandemic in which I recognize people have all kinds of life events happening outside of class.
In this spirit, here is what I propose for the late work policy for the class: I would like to maintain deadlines, but keep them flexible. Deadlines will help you work steadily towards each goal, and reinforce the idea that writing is a process, which is an important goal and practice of the course. However, I will not penalize late assignments. If an assignment is late, what needs to happen is we need to make a plan that we both agree on for you turning it in. This means, if you miss an assignment, you should propose an alternative date you will turn it in by. You can do this in the CANVAS comments where you would have turned in the assignment, or simply by emailing me. If I agree to that date, and you turn it by that time, I will give you the full amount of points you have earned. We will do this on an assignment-to-assignment, individual basis. If you miss an assignment that requires Peer Review, you should make an appointment at the UD Writing Center to make sure you they send me a report that you have had it workshopped there in order to receive credit for the assignment. If you are a peer waiting to review someone who does not turn in their assignment on time, I will automatically give you the full points for doing the review.
Absences: Remember, your class will meet only once a week as a whole group. You can miss 3 of our meetings with no questions asked and no impact to your participation grade. If you miss more than 3 of these meetings, your participation grade will start to drop by 1 point for every class missed. This being said: If you are having an issue that prohibits you from coming to these weekly meetings or having your camera on, etc. please just reach out to me and let me know and we can figure out a possible accommodation plan.
The most important thing to take away from all of this: keep me in the loop if something is going on for you that is prohibiting you from attending or fully participating in the class. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, you don’t have to share your full situation with me when you reach out, but if you at least let me know something is going on, I can help you. I wish for each and every one of you to complete and succeed in this course. If you reach out to me, I promise I will do my best to work with you to make a plan so that this can happen!