Friday, December 11, 2009

What Makes a Good Course?

So I taught three courses this semester. Two of them were new for me, and they went really great. The thrid one, however, was kind of a flop. The classroom was really bad, which contributed to creating what I perceived as a discouraging atmosphere. This was one of the few "non-smart" classrooms we have left here on campus. This means that there was no audio-visual equipment that I could use. From the first couple of classes, I realized that even using a projector to show transparencies in that long, dark, and depressing classroom was useless.

In general, the whole course was very unlucky. When I tried bringing the students to our language lab to watch a movie, something would go wrong every single time (which did not happen with my other courses.) It took us four tries to actually get through that movie with all the technical issues we had. The feeling I got from the group dynamics in class (which is absolutely different for every single group you teach, irrespective of the course) was one of lack of enthusiasm and often even boredom. Since I taught this course before, I didn't prepare much for it. Instead, I just used the materials I had come here with. I was so convinced that this class was a flop that I even confessed it to my Chair.

Today it turned out, however, that my feeling of disappointment was not shared by the students. This was my only class this semester where the students signed a collective card for me, saying that I am "a wonderful professor and a great inspiration." Then, a few of them came up to thank me individually practically with tears in their eyes. Honestly, I am floored by this result. I thought that if I don't enjoy the course, the students wouldn't like it either. Now I don't even know what to think. It seems that the courses that turn out to be my best ones ever are the ones where I don't prepare much for them.

Is God telling me that in order to become an even better professor I should get even lazier? And work even less? For now, this is the only conclusion I can draw from this strange experience.


feministified musings said...

Awww, that's wonderful!

It seems to me that you are simply a natural and are teaching from passion. My favorite professors have always been the ones who add this element into their academia.

It does not seem to me at all that it was 'laziness' on your part . It seems like you are so comfortable w/ this specific class/issue, and it is so natural to you that you not only teach it in academic terms, but your passion radiates right into your lectures.

I had a class this semester which was held in one of the savviest "smart rooms" - and we had a lot of issues w/ the technology. Movies w/out sound, etc., etc., - but my Prof. was the awesome-est, most passionate, intelligent knowledgeable woman- that her love for the issues and the way she held us responsible to confront them attracted everyone to pay attention. I imagine your course was something along those lines. :) Great job.

Clarissa said...

Oh, thank you so much, my friend!

And congratulations with the end of the semester!