H. R. Spendelow
Department of History
Georgetown University

Class Protocols
Updated: 19 Sep 2010

子曰: 學而時習之,不亦說乎(1)

This hand-out sets forth some basic ground rules for students in my courses, to make expectations as clear as possible and reduce the potential for any misunderstandings.


    Lectures, Attendance, and Assignments Professorial Availability
    Communications and Conferences
    Teaching Assistants
    Advising and Recommendations
    Assignment Formats and Submission Procedures
    Due Dates, Deadlines, and Other Responsibilities
  1. Extensions
  2. Sanctions for late submissions

  4. Lectures, Attendance, and Assignments:

    1. Discussions and class dialogue :  In those lecture courses without formal discussion sections, you should treat each lecture as a potential discussion.  For all courses, although my "steam-roller" lecture style might lead you to think otherwise, I don't mind being interrupted for questions or requests for clarification, and I encourage the presentation of alternative interpretations.
    3. Attendance:  There is no formal roll-call for lectures, but it soon becomes apparent who is or is not a regular attendee.  You will not be marked off specifically for missing lectures, but regular attendance is considered  an indication of your earnestness and thus can't help but enter into the subjective aspects of grading.  Also, you are responsible for all material presented in class, much of which will not be duplicated in the readings.  For those class meetings specifically designated as "discussion sections", attendance is mandatory.
    5. Absences:  If you are absent when tests or papers are handed back, I will let a classmate pick up your material only with your written authorization.  If you "have" to be absent from a quiz, test, or other formal requirement, you should let me know well ahead of time, in writing, and with documentation from the appropriate authorities.  Likewise, absences due to illness should be documented by a note from the Student Health Service.  If some calamity keeps you from taking a test, either you can let me know beforehand, or I can verify through some independent observer that it was only because you were in traction or a coma that you couldn't get to a phone.  In any event, ex post facto excuses are highly suspect and usually unacceptable.
    7. Students can expect to be tested on all assigned readings. Also, as scholars, you surely would go beyond the requirements in any assignment, getting a grasp on the author's viewpoint and sources by reading the preface, introduction, etc.

  6. Professorial Availability:
    1. My regular office-hours are listed on the syllabus, and you can be sure of catching me in ICC 607 then (barring  unexpected diversions).  However, since the door is open on a first-come first-served basis, you may want to bring along something to read while you wait -- just make sure that I know you're waiting..
    3. We can also meet at other times by prior appointment. Most times are available, except just before class and Wednesday mornings.
    5. You can also take pot-luck: don't hesitate to come by the office at other times to see if I'm free, but don't take it as a personal rejection if I tell you that at the moment I'm not.
    7. Before each class session I invariably get seized by an exacerbated form of stage-fright and become extremely anti-social; this is not the time when I can give the most sympathetic ear to any problems you might wish to bring me; instead, please try to save your questions (on paper-topics, readings, etc.) for after the lecture.
    9. Still, I do welcome the opportunity to talk with you and find out more about your background and interests.  I'd appreciate it if you could take the initiative to schedule some time toward the beginning of the semester to come by and tell me more about yourself.
    11. My desire to get to know each one of you is, alas, not supported by any great facility at remembering names and connecting them with faces.  It would help me tremendously if you would reintroduce yourself at each meeting, until I can take the initiative by greeting you first by name. (If you're willing to email me an ID *.jpg or *.gif, that would certainly help, although privacy/confidentiality concerns prevent me from formally requesting this.)
    12. My office phone (202.687.6198) is connected to the University's Audix system.  Yes, the system is impersonal, but it does keep me from missing things like frantic requests for recommendations, etc.  I generally do not answer the phone if there is already a student in my office.

    13.  I also strongly encourage you to take advantage of email, which I often check, even late at night. During regular working hours, I'm usually reachable at spendelh@georgetown.edu; for late night, weekends, or vacations, I'm best reached at panjiaoshou@gmail.com.  To be safe, send notes to both. 
    14. Some students have asked about tape-recording lectures. While I think this is a silly waste of tape and time, I have no objection so long as tapes are solely for your personal reference. The appearance of transcripts in the Hoya or at congressional hearings, or broadcasts on the campus radio station will be regarded as a serious breach of trust (and good taste). 

  8. Communications and Conferences:

    1. As indicated in your syllabus, all materials handed out in class constitute an official part of the course.  Obviously, this does not mean you're expected to memorize every deathless word of my prolix explanations, but you are responsible for all the principles, expectations, and guidelines expressed therein.
    3. The phrase "handed out in class" includes "published on the class website".  You will be given a hard copy of all the class materials, but the currently authoritative copy can always be obtained from the site.  Also, updates and minor revisions may be published first on the web, although any major revisions will always be announced in class.  "Class website" refers to both material posted on Blackboard and via appropriate links through my homepage.    
    4. Occasionally I will need to send out mass emailings to the class via  Blackboard or Access+, both of which default to your [NetID]@georgetown.edu account.  It is each student's responsibility to keep that account under-quota so that such messages don't get bounced back.
    6. As I gallop toward senility and become increasingly forgetful, it would serve everyone's interests if you could make any requests in writing (hard copy preferred; e-mail notes acceptable); a piece of paper handed to me after class or stuffed in the box outside my door in the History Department eventually will get dealt with.
    8. On your papers and exams, I don't always have time to write down as many comments as I'd like.  If you want to get a fuller explanation of your grade, or just discuss your work further, please turn the paper or test back in to me a day or so before a scheduled conference. Requests for such conferences get more difficult to grant the closer we get to final exams, so if you want to review a mid-term, come in early.
    10. As for the prospecti required as part of your paper assignment, I am eager to look over and comment on all your efforts at this level, but I do not have the time to look over drafts of your paper's complete text itself.
  9. Teaching Assistants:

    1. Teaching Assistants are graduate students earning an abysmally small stipend while assisting the professor with the course; as teachers-in-training they are an integral part of the teaching staff.  Generally, T.A.'s help with the course mechanics, assist in grading, and run discussion sections in courses which have them.
    3. Any questions about grades or comments on papers should be taken first to the person giving the grade or comment, be it professor or T.A.  T.A.'s are responsible for defending the grades they give, and the professor will review questions about a T.A.'s grades only if the T.A. and student cannot reach a satisfactory resolution.

    4. Think of the T.A. as a well-connected and knowledgeable source of information about and guidance for the course.  (Think of your classmates in the same way.) Remember Confucius's advice:  "When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers."(2)

  10. Advising and Recommendations:
    1. Advising: Especially for those of you for whom I serve as some sort of advisor (e.g., as a History Major / Concentrator, for the Asian Studies Certificate, etc.), there will invariably be lots of forms that need signing.  If there's nothing else that need be discussed, your best bet is simply to leave the form in the box just outside my office door, and you can be reasonably sure that it will be waiting there for you, signed, the next day.

    2. Recommendations:  I'm generally willing to write letters of recommendation, but need a lot of supporting material (e.g., a copy of your application essay and your curriculum vitæ) in order to do so effectively. There's a separate handout on recommendations available on-line which gives you all the details.
  12. Assignment Formats and Submission Procedures:
    1. General advice on paper formats can be found in my Stylesheet for Term Papers.
    3. All written work  must be submitted in both (1) hardcopy print-out (double-spaced & paginated), either in class or delivered to my office,  and (2) electronic format, submitted via Blackboard's "Assignments" page.  As indicated in the next section, work initially submitted only electronically can be counted as "on time", but you won't get any feedback from me until I get the hardcopy print-out.
    4. Unless specifically instructed to do otherwise, do not submit any assignments as email attachments; these will be deleted and ignored.
  14. Due Dates, Deadlines, and Other Responsibilities: 

    1. Due dates for written work are c.o.b. ("close-of-business"). That is, if you can get your paper into either my Department mailbox (or the wall-bin outside my door) or post it on Blackboard's "Assignments" page before the Department closes (generally around 5:00 p.m., 4:30 on Fridays), then your paper is considered "on time." This means that on days when papers are due, you can (indeed, should) come to class, rather than spending that time in some frantic last-minute creative activity.
    3. Dates for examinations and turning in final versions of your paper are sacrosanct.
    5. For your paper topic and paper prospectus statements, due-dates should be taken very seriously, as a means of pacing your work. Ultimately, these assignments function as a kind of progress report, and you can get feedback from me only in proportion to the amount of input you have offered. Students who turn their assignments in on time have established their good faith; even their subsequent revisions will be dealt with before any tardy submissions from other students.  In any event, all assignments are reviewed (and returned) more or less in the order received.
      1. Limitation:  While you are strenuously encouraged to submit as many revisions of your prospectus (paragraph and/or outline, as appropriate) as you want, I cannot guarantee that you will get feedback on revisions submitted less than five days before the final paper's due-date.  On the day that the paper is due, I can give feedback only on technical (not substantive) questions.
    6. Extensions: If for any reason you know you will not be able to meet a deadline, let me know well enough beforehand.  Requests for extensions should be made in writing and suggest a realistic date for completing your work.  Extensions become effective only when acknowledged in writing.  Acceptable justifications for an extension would include illness, family emergency, etc., along with documentable difficulties in getting specific sources for your research.  Having "a lot of other work due that week" will not meet with much sympathy, since your obligations for the course are spelled out from Day One, and you're expected to be able to budget your time appropriately.
    8. To enhance your motivation for timely submission of assignments, the following sanctions will be applied  if an item is turned in late without any good reason:
      1. If your topic-statement is turned in more than a week beyond the due-date, that fact will be noted and in the event that the final paper seems to fall on the borderline between two grades, it will receive the lower grade of the two.
      2. If your prospectus is turned in more than a week beyond the due-date, that fact will be noted and the grade at which your final paper gets assessed will be lowered one grading-unit (e.g., a B+ becomes a B; a B- becomes a C+, etc.)
      3. If your final paper misses the deadline, the grade will be lowered one grading-unit for every 24-hour period that it is late.  This means that a paper which originally would have earned you an "A" would drop down to a "C-" if it were a full week late.  After one week, it receives an "F" (which is still better than automatically failing the entire course for not turning in a paper at all).
    9. Some matters such as requests for "incompletes" and problems with final examination conflicts require a visit first with your dean before the last day of classes, to obtain the appropriate forms and approval. Also, any extended absence from the University should first be reported to your dean, who will notify all your professors on your behalf.
    11. Ultimately, each student bears individual responsibility for meeting deadlines. "My typist got sick" or "the computer was down" do not constitute acceptable excuses. Budget a time-cushion for these all-too-frequent disasters. Also, each student is responsible for taking the initiative in making up work due to illness or other absence.
      1. In this regard, I do not follow the Biblical example, which suggests:  "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost...".(3)  As far as I'm concerned, the sheep who stay on the path get my attention, while "lost sheep" are on their own.(4)  Instead, I prefer the Confucian example: "I do not enlighten those who are not eager to learn, nor arouse those who are not anxious to give an explanation themselves. If I have presented one corner of the square and they cannot come back to me with the other three, I should not go over the points again."(5)
    12. Those students who often have problems in meeting deadlines might seek guidance from Psalm 90:12 (to which the biblically erudite might wish to respond with the last part of Mark 4:38...). Students who do not follow this advice should consult Sirach 22:2.

1. The opening line of the Analects of Confucius:  The Master said, "Is it not pleasant to study with a constant perseverance and application?" 

2. Analects, VII.2 (Legge, 202): 三人行, 必有我師焉

3. Luke, 15:4

4. I'm not completely heartless however; "lost sheep" who cry out for help will be cheerfully guided back to the flock. But as for the silent lost sheep, I just assume you know (and are happy with) what you're doing.

5. Analects, VII.8 (Legge, 197):