January 14, 2011

Student Athletes

In my class of 140 students I think I have ten students athletes. 

Teaching student athletes is an experience.

Firstly, the emails.  Lots of them for different reasons- excused absences for sport events, athletic academic advisors letting me know students are in my class, wanting me to know that if I have any issues that I can look to them for support.

The emails are interesting: are the students sitting in the front of the class?  Staying awake?  Are they focused or are they being disruptive?

Also, because the class is so large I do not take attendance.  The athletic department has that covered too: they send people around to look in the classroom windows checking to make sure that the students are all in attendance.  One student, C, got skipped on Wednesday's headcount and actually asked me to write a note to his coach documenting his attendance.  The man is at least 6'5 and sits in the front row- very hard to miss.

If any of these students do poorly it will not be because they failed to come to class.

The athletic department informed me that some of these students (labeled 'at-risk') will receive weekly scheduled meetings with advisors, bi-weekly meetings with a 'strategic tutor,' as well as help from 'content tutors.'  The advisors also want me to report if I am having any behavioral problems with any student athletes, as well as (and this is what I like) wanting to know if they are doing very well- participating, answering questions, etc.

Additionally, I don't know if this was just C's case or the situations of all of the student athletes, but C was telling me how he has multiple copies of the syllabus- one in his folder and one taped to his bedroom wall.  I also think that the academic advisors print them out too so that they know what is happening and when.

I have to tell you I am thus far impressed with the support system in place for these students.  I think for a long time the assumption was that the athletes got special treatment- passing grades even if they did not deserve it.  Being an athlete at a school like UF and FSU does come with perks, that's for sure, but I think this idea that students are passed along undeservedly is a thought with diminishing weight.

So far I enjoy teaching thoroughly.

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