I just had a bit of a gross moment with my 2pm class that has left me feeling a bit … unsure of my choice.
See, I’m teaching two sections of the same class, back to back, and while the 1pm class is great, the 2pm section is a bit more of a challenge. It’s the stereotypical classroom, you know, with slumped postures, bored expressions, heavy-lidded eyes, the occasional smirk. Drives me up a wall, not to mention, when they’re bored and not talking, I’M bored and just want to walk away. I’m not a salesperson, I’m not going to cajole these people into participating. But it is my job to get them to think critically about the material, so I can’t just check out.
So, after a brief chat with a friend of mine about the right thing to do in this situation, pedagogically, I told my class, “Look, we need to have a conversation about expectations. I see a lot of this [imitated slumping postures, etc] and that’s not cool. The success of this class is dependent on *your* investment and participation, and I’m not a TV. I can see your body language and it’s killing this class. So, I want you all to be thinking about what you think it takes to make a successful class and what we can do to make this class better, rather than us boring each other to tears for three hours a week. Nobody wants that, and it’s going to be a long, sad semester if we’re sitting in here bored every day. So be thinking about what it will take to go from this [slumping, sad/bored face] to this [sitting upright, eyes wide open] so that we can make the most of our time together.”
I got some concerned looks and some glares (god, there’s this one kid who sits in the front row and the hate-rays I get from him are unnerving — I wish he’d move to the back!) and some smiles from the teacher-pleasers. I really don’t know if I did the right thing. All I know is that I dread going from my 1pm class (smiley face!) to my 2pm section (sad face) every single MWF, and that’s not doing anybody any good.