Cutting your losses


I have a class this semester that--despite every gimmick I throw at them--will not engage.  So a few weeks ago I gave up trying.  This is not what a professor who has committed himself to active learning pedagogy, growth mindset and student-centered approaches is supposed to do.  He is expected to find a way to get through to these students.  He is supposed to keep trying, to break through.

But I looked at the needs of the students in my other class and did a quick calculation.  I could keep spending all my time and energy trying to come up with innovative ways to get through to a roomful of students doing the  mannequin challenge, or I could put more effort into the other courses. So I just went back to lecturing in my problematic course.

They won.  They didn't want to engage and I gave in.

I feel bad about it, too.  It's an odd feeling going into class each day knowing you are doing it wrong.  You can actually feel it each time one of them looks at the clock in boredom, or stares blankly into space.  And you yourself feel guilty, a little ashamed.  You commit yourself to getting it right next time, but right now it is what it is.  Sometimes you have to cut your losses.

Yesterday as I stood in the hallway doing the evaluation shuffle, I wondered if they were ripping me as much as I was.  But who knows?   Maybe they don't even see the difference.  If so, that's the real tragedy.

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