October 03, 2005

Frustrating teaching day

Today just didn't go very well, teaching-wise. In FP, I had the hardest time yet trying to prod the students into discussion. I suppose that my discussion questions aren't good enough, but seriously, for most of the class it felt like they all would've rather just sat there in uncomfortable silence. A few of them might not have read the assignment, but I think that wasn't the problem for most of them. One kept answering questions in such a way as to shut down discussion---not sure if that was intentional or not---and another clearly seemed to disapprove of my lack of control, though apparently not enough to actually say very much. (I did manage to coax out a few comments, at least.) Towards the end of the class, there was a bit of actual back-and-forth between students, but it felt very fragile. When it veered a bit from what we'd actually read, I was leery of trying to steer it back, because I'm pretty sure that if I had opened my mouth, they would've all closed theirs again. Arrghhh. Of course, I can't blame them---I'm the one that's supposed to draw them out of their shells and cause them to re-examine and re-form their world view, right? I'm the one that's supposed to make them able to understand how to evaluate and make choices, right? I just don't know how. Up till today, I kind of thought I was doing alright, but then, blahhh.

Fast on the heels of that failure, I moved on to my CS 141 class. Although I've been generally happy with my pacing and such this term, today I felt like I was ineffective when I was lecturing, ineffective when I was eliciting responses, and ineffective when I put them in small groups. I "covered" most of what I wanted to cover for today, but I felt somehow that nobody walked out understanding anything other than what they'd walked in with.

And I have no idea why. Some days, I do something wrong, and I know what I can do to fix it. But I just have no idea why today completely failed to work. So I'm mostly reduced to just hoping things go better Wednesday. What a frustrating feeling.

'Sudoku comes from a Japanese word meaning "You won't believe the amount of time I have to kill."' --Howard Leff

Posted by blahedo at 11:33pm on 3 Oct 2005
Teaching is always about risks -- maximizing the risk that students will do the things you want, and minimizing the risk that they won't. Some days, you're just rolling 1s. It's just one of those things. Posted by Kimmitt at 9:01pm on 10 Oct 2005
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