how important is 1/8?

My U doesn't have any official "passing time" between class timeblocks. So one class is scheduled 11:30-1:00, the next is 1:00-2:30, the next is 2:30-4:00 (for the 90 minute blocks; there are others, for different kinds of courses). So, most faculty let their students go with about 10 minutes to spare before the next class hour starts, to allow them to walk to other buildings, etc. Occasionally I might run into that time and let them out with 8 minutes, or a little less; occasionally I might let them go with 15 minutes, if we've reached a good stopping point right then.

One of my students came up after class on Tuesday and explained that the professor in her class before mine runs class right up until 1:00, and she has to sprint across campus. She will probably be a few minutes late, nearly every day -- but that's not her fault. I'm glad she explained what the situation was, and it's slightly irritating, but she's been very good about trying to get to class as quickly as possible.

Also on Tuesday, in the same class, after I went over the syllabus and explained the set up of the course, I asked if anyone had any questions, before we moved on to the lecture/discussion part of the session. A student raised her hand, and when I called on her, she said "I have to leave early." I said, "Today?" and she said "I have to leave early every day, at 2:10, so I can pick up my children."

This really wasn't a question, of course -- she was simply telling me that she would be leaving. Add to that the ideology that assumes that because she's a mother all rules don't apply to her. That really irritates me. Because frankly, it's all the same to me why you think you have to leave. I don't really see why I should be accomodating in this instance. Why sign up for a course that you know you will be missing 1/8 of? But I also don't see what I can do about it. I can't bar the door, or drop her from the course.

So I told her that she'd better sit near the door so she wouldn't disrupt the other students when she left. She sucked her teeth at me about that, but on Thursday she complied. After class on Tues, another student came up and explained that she too would have to leave at 2:10 to pick up her kid, and that she'd sit by the door as well.

So they slipped out while I was still talking, which of course created a ripple effect of glances and restlessness among other students. This is going to be very frustrating every afternoon. And I refuse to go out of my way to make sure they get any handouts, announcements, or information that I deliver in the last 10-15 minutes of the class. It's their responsibility to find out what they missed, just the same as if they missed a full day due to illness.

Grr. Now my task is to not let my irritation with their poor choices interfere with my assessment of their participation and performance in other aspects of my class.