I'm only teaching one class this semester (plus another job the department has us do) and it is one of the major reasons why I am bored and busy. I've never taught this class so I have a lot more prep work than I am used to. I feel like I am constantly playing around with our syllabus and class website, and I'm grading the first batch of papers right now. But...the students are so boring. This probably means that they think that I am so boring, and together we just bore the hell out of each other. I have never, ever had such a quiet class that I know nothing about. It is so silent in there. They come in the room and don't even talk to each other, let alone me. I am trying to crack jokes left and right, jokes that are, of course, hilarious, and nothing. Not a peep. The biggest laugh they have given me was in response to a Harry Potter reference. I don't know if those opportunities are going to present themselves throughout the semester, but it was a nice laugh while it lasted.
I was talking to another teaching assistant who teaches in the same room and his/her theory is that it is the room that makes the students so dull. The room is in the basement of a building, is kind of bigger than the other classrooms our colleagues are teaching in, and has rows of desktop computers where the students sit (I think I've mentioned that before). So, we're thinking:
- Basement=depressing. That's a no-brainer. It's the middle of winter and we're stuck in a dark basement.
- Bigger room=less of a community/friendly feeling. My colleague thinks that the smaller rooms elicit more camaraderie and that this big room just has too much space which allows the students to keep to their isolated areas.
- Computers=personal entertainment systems. I curse these computers. We use them in class and my students are really good about not going on sites they shouldn't be on, but I think it is these computers that discourage them from talking to each other. They come in the room, turn on the computers, and never look to their left or right again. It is also hard for me when I look out in the class and just see these big computer screens blocking faces. I feel like I am teaching robots.
However, I had my first ever office hours visit from a student. That was exciting and I don't think he/she was bored during that meeting! It's the little things, right?