I've written previously about how difficult this semester has been. I haven't really noted much improvement. I've made connections with individual students, but none of my classes have a good vibe still. And some of the students have been rough to deal with - the ones who get up and leave without trying if the lab has math in it, the ones who demand to know why they have to take the course for their major, the ones who yell at me because they find the course difficult and I have to bite my tongue and not yell back that this IS the easier version of introductory physics, the ones who are inert in the classroom... Last Wednesday, during the introduction to Mars lecture, my class was almost completely silent. Things that have sparked great discussions with previous classes did nothing here. I kept thinking during that hour, "I'm just gonna go back to my office and cry. Just bawl." Then one of my students approached me after class. He said that he was thinking about becoming a teacher and wondered if he could ask a few questions. Then he asked me, "How do you deal with a class that just refuses to respond, no matter what you do?" And I realized that some of my students were frustrated by their classmates' lack of interaction, too. We chatted for quite some time, and when he left he told me that he appreciated all of the effort I put into our class.
So I'd just like to thank Brian for saving my semester. I was pretty much bottoming out there, and he threw me a lifeline.