The low-energy class

All of us find ourselves in classes whose energy is low, and I had the first meeting of such a class today. It was our first class together, and it went OK, but I felt like I was really having to pull things out of the students and that most students avoided making eye contact. I find that faced with a class like this, I tend to get frustrated and anxious and I pull away from them, which doesn’t help establish that connection. So, I have my work cut out for me in the next class, growing a really solid connection with these students and getting them to open up. I’ll be having them give me feedback in the next class (on Thursday), so that may help, but I think I may also simply want to address the class energy directly and talk to them about it. I wonder how much of the distance between us has to do with power dynamics and trust. Any suggestions anyone has would be much appreciated!


3 thoughts on “The low-energy class

  1. Cindy says:

    How about turning it into a math project for the class — graphing the class energy or trust or whatever over time? You probably could think of better ideas since you are the math prof….

    Also, maybe just normalizing this would be helpful. They don’t know you yet and were trying to take care of themselves and their own anxiety, I imagine.

  2. faroop says:

    Cindy — That’s an interesting idea — it would probably be a little more workable in my calculus class since it pertains to what we are studying, but the glass I am thinking of does have some design students, and I could think of a hook about information visualization. And I think you are spot-on about their anxiety — I think a lot of them were really uncomfortable, but I feel like I’ve been here before and a class that starts that uncomfortable may stay that uncomfortable. So maybe it might help just to name it.

    Or, Josh, I could take your suggestion and bring the coffee!

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