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Why college teachers shouldn't do roll call


When I first started teaching at the Art Institute of Phoenix, back in the '90s, I knew absolutely nothing about the world of academia. My specialty was Graphic Design, and I knew the software. I took a certification class that gave me the credentials to teach what was essentially a "tech" class or "shop" class, but mostly I just did what I knew from the professional world. And in the professional world, no one in a meeting does a roll call.

If you're in front of a group of strangers, shouting out their names, and probably mispronouncing half of them, you're an idiot. That is, unless you're in front of children, and people over 18 are not children. Of course, attendance was important, so I put out a sign-in sheet and referred to it. I kept the sign-in sheet, and if anyone ever wanted to know who was there that day, I had documentation. Yeah, I'm an old corporate guy.

On the first day of class I always encouraged my students to introduce themselves. I went around the room after having written some questions on the board such as "are you familiar with Adobe Photoshop?", etc. If someone didn't want to talk, I just said that I was glad that they were there, and moved on. Most people did want to talk. They spoke their name (pronounced correctly) and complained about the parking.

So don't do roll call. Taking your reading glasses out of your pocket, saying "harrumph", and shouting out everyone's name, probably mispronounced most of them, is no way to go. It just makes me want to shoot spitballs at you.