Friday, January 12, 2007

A Tale of Two Classes

I've been posting comparatively infrequently lately, partially because my energies have been elsewhere, like the first week of classes. Among other things, I am teaching two sections of the survey course that is clearly my bread-and-butter here, one at 8:30 with ten students, and the other at 11:30 with forty.

I might as well be prepping two different classes. Because of the time of day, the size of the group, and just the various personalities, the early section is much, much more subdued, and so am I, though this means that I am actually pressing students more, asking them to participate more, and, I suspect, giving them more individual attention. We have an attrition problem here at BRU, and I hope that I'll be able to keep as many of this group of ten as possible, especially, since two have taken this class from me before, without success. Ultimately, I think this will be the more rewarding course for the students.

For me, though, the second course is compelling. It's offered at a time of day that I'm hitting my stride, and, based on the first two classes, it's a group that really responds well as an audience. It was like there was a laugh track to my lectures there, and accordingly, I stepped up the performance level. I was funnier, I was livelier, I totally held the stage. The first two days reminded me why teaching at this level scratches the itch left by my long absence from the theatrical stage. Of course, the sage-on-the-stage model is one I generally try to avoid, since it tends to dampen the possibility for active student engagement. Therefore I'll really need to resist the narcotic pull of students laughing at my jokes. Plus I'm not sure, and feel weird even mentioning it, but there actually seemed to be some girlish twittering going on, which is odd, since I'm no chili-pepper prof.

Here, I almost hope for a bit of that fabled attrition, for the good of the class dynamic as a whole. But mostly, I just want these students to get a meaningful learning experience, and not just a professor who infotains them twice a week. Because I can infotain with the best of them, and that's not in their best interest.

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