I have an odd teaching etiquette question. But first, some background.
I am teaching Administrative Law at 8:00 am three days a week. It's the first time I've ever taught at 8:00 since I'm not naturally a morning kind of a guy. More nocturnal, if anything. I didn't even take 9am classes in college or law school if I could possibly avoid it. But in order to get the kids off to school we have to be up by 6:15 anyway, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.
And it turns out I like it. The 50-person class is surprisingly lively at that hour, and the class doesn't break up my day as much.
But an early morning meeting time also seems to have created an increased potential for a new classroom situation that I am not entirely sure how to deal with. Yesterday, a student actually fell asleep in my class. In the front row.
Dull as I may be (and it would have to be me — Administrative Law is a delightful and interesting subject), I'm pretty sure that this has never happened before in 13 years of teaching. Never? Well, hardly ever—there was that one time when they had a big free beer bash in the quad just before my 6:30pm class, and one of the night students whose day job was construction had about four too many, and, well, never mind. (He was very apologetic the next day.)
So, what is the etiquette when a student just slides quietly into Nod? If he had been snoring, I'd have had to do something, but he was quite a tidy slumper, so this time I did nothing..
The whole incident reminds me, albeit somewhat uncomfortably, of a story that was popular when I was a law student at Yale. Myres McDougal, the great international lawyer, was emeritus by the time I got there, but his v e r y slow southern drawl was as distinctive as ever. The story was that when, as a young man, he had taught at Columbia, they had given him a lecture room with a ground floor and a balcony. Supposedly, one of the Columbia students fell asleep in the front row of the balcony. McDougal looked as his seating chart, called on the student next to the sleeper and asked him to please waken his colleague.
The student supposedly responded, “You put him to sleep, you wake him up.”
Well, should I?