Not my best moment? I dunno.


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.

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4 Comments

  1. Good for you! I think it’s always better just to address what’s happening, instead of ignoring it all semester long. Here’s a link that you might find helpful – actually, it’s the comments that are helpful:
    http://scatter.wordpress.com/2008/05/08/teaching-question/

    incidentally, my first thought is that you have to find a way to ensure the majority of the class has done the reading so they all have something to say, and maybe put the responsibility on a small group each week to lead the discussion, which would make them accountable and less passive. Just a thought. Good luck!

    Reply
  2. A

     /  October 5, 2008

    Seems like what you did was completely appropriate. Maybe some people that were hesitant to speak up before will be more willing to now that they know you are really wanting to hear more comments.

    Reply
  3. shwaldman

     /  October 6, 2008

    I came across your blog today through randomness and enjoyed the reading… thanks for that. I did want to comment on this post because I saw something you may not have… I noticed at the beginning that you said:
    …”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,”…

    Now, having no background mind you (I only read through a couple of your posts), as much as I agree with you addressing it with your class, I offer this suggestion: Verify that you addressed it with yourself also. It sounds like you might also be bored teaching the same topic, back to back…. just a thought from an outsider.

    Reply
  4. okay – so what’s the update?? I’m curious!

    Reply

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