Thursday, March 3, 2011

Failure to Connect

Every once in a while there is a course that you just can't make work. I am teaching such a course this semester. For some reason, it's not happening. I have taught this course several times in the past, including at this university. I am very familiar with the material and the textbook. I like the material and the textbook. I have a stack of original activities prepared and I keep creating new ones. The group is very good. These students must have had very good profs before me because their general level of preparedness for this course is outstanding. They work hard, and I have no complaints to make of them.

And still, every single time after the class ends, I have this profound feeling of complete and utter failure. I keep trying to change things around, play with the format, bring different kinds of activities, but nothing works. I'm not connecting with this particular group of students. They exist as a completely separate entity, and nothing I do brings me closer to them. I know that this sounds confusing to those who are not teachers, but that's how it feels.  It's got me to the point where I feel frumpy and irrelevant every time I walk into this classroom. And this is not the way I usually feel about myself.

Just wanted to share.


Pagan Topologist said...

I do indeed know the feeling.

Spanish prof said...

I know the feeling. I also remember some of your previous post about your surprise of getting excellent student evaluations in classes you felt you were failing. Even though that doesn't compensate for not feeling the thrill of teaching, maybe it's just your perception.

Jonathan said...

Try taking them to another room or to the university art museum one day. It could be it's a space with a bad "vibe."

You could also give a mid-semester teaching survey to them. Maybe they all love the course, maybe not, but it would be a good time to find out now.

Clarissa said...

A mid-semester survey is a great idea. I'll definitely try it after the spring break.

Melissa said...

Not to take pleasure in your frustration, but what a relief! I was worried I was the only one that happens to :)