Monday, February 13, 2006

What to do?

I just haven't reached my classes this semester. I wonder if it's because I was sick the first week and didn't make a good impression? I don't know, but the vibe in the classroom isn't as pleasant as it usually is. With one lecture in particular, I find myself stumbling for words at places where the complete lack of reaction catches me off guard. I think of teaching now almost as performance art, and I feed a lot off of my audience. This feedback loop is an unfortunate cycle this semester, and I can't figure out how to break out of it. It's a shame in so many ways - the students are not getting me at my best, and I'm not having the fun I normally do at work. I feel like the more I try to reach them, the more distant they become.

Any advice would be appreciated.

12 comments:

lili said...

Hey, I teach some really big pains in the ass for a living (aka: middle school). My advice to you, try some small group activities (for smaller classes) and put the ball in their court. Just in case some of them think they can do better, let them prove it to you...or...just fail a few on the next assignment, that usually gets their butts in gear.

Kirsten said...

Hm. Maybe set something on fire? A student, maybe.

Charly said...

I double that!

Charly said...

Make class participation a good 30% of the grade, see how those punks start lifting their lazy hands.

Dr. Lisa said...

Thanks for the advice, all. I do try some group work on occasion, but the classroom is not really set up for that. And I should say that I have had some good individual interactions with students, just not the class as a whole. They have their first exam tomorrow - we'll see how they do!

Jackie M. said...

Hmm. Well, I vote for the fire. And ice -- throw in some liquid nitrogen. Preferably on the floor, at their feet. That'll wake 'em up.

Charly said...

OK, seems like you need to get this burning student thing going, Master.

Oh, and the liquid nitrogen? Niiiice.

Actually, at the lab people frequently spill it all over the place. Far from doing any damage, it cleans the dirt in the floor as the little balls of nitrogen evaporate and quickly move around the place. It is QUITE amusing.

David Moles said...

Team-building activities, maybe? Drop 'em in the middle of the Sonora desert and have 'em find their way out by celestial navigation.

Dr. Lisa said...

Liquid nitrogen - always fun and important in some of the moons of the outer solar system. Hmmm...but I think I like David's idea!

SarahP said...

I know what you mean. Every once and a while you get a class and there's no chemistry, no lurve. I had a class like that once and brought them donuts on midterm exam day, and they didn't eat a single one. Not much you can do about it; do your best and count the days until the end of the semester.

SarahP said...

Oh, and speaking of liquid nitrogen, did you ever make cryocream?

(My husband uses huge amounts of N in his lab; he has a whole giant tank of it outside for his MBE facility. So the N is easy to come by.)

Dr. Lisa said...

You mean ice cream made with liquid nitrogen? Oh yeah! Great demo for kids, and adults are usually intrigued that you can make alcoholic ice cream this way.

I've never heard of a class not eating the free donuts during an exam. Wow! Glad you survived that, Sarah.