I teach two days a week at a local college, and had to miss a class a couple weeks into the semester due to a health issue. When I returned, a few students approached who had registered late. Since my attendance policy is based on the total number of classes available, they were concerned that they were starting the semester already behind.
“Tell you what,” I said, benevolently. “When I calculate the attendance grade at the end of the semester, I’ll calculate yours separately, based on your start date.” I was very pleased with my solution.
Then I remembered reality, and said, “But you’d better remind me.”
One student shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other. “Do you . . .um . . . do you think you’ll remember this conversation?” he asked.
“Of course I will!” I replied, way too quickly.
Silence. “All due respect,” he said nervously, looking around for support from the others, “you called our names for attendance and smiled at us and acted kind of like you thought we’d been here all along. We got the sense you didn’t know we were new.”
Flashing on all of the times in recent past when I ran into people I knew whose names I couldn’t recall, I realized I’d expanded my repertoire of forgetfulness to include forgetting people I never even knew in the first place, I finally said, “Yes, well … certainly a reminder on that note couldn’t hurt either.”