Sorry folks, but its the class again. End of week two. And still, several students have not contributed to a single Blackboard discussion. I'm torn. I really want to take these students aside and just tell them to drop now, because they will likely not pass this class if they don't contribute -- it's just too big a part of their grade. But it's really too small a class to lose any students (am I a cynic because I'm pleased that, if they do drop, I still get credit for not having lost FTEs?). So I'm angry with them. And I feel terribly guilty that they won't do the work.
But they are supposed to be adults. They knowingly signed up for a class that has a significant online component. It's been made abundantly clear that this is not an optional part of the class. If they choose not to do the work, it is not my responsibility. So ... why do I feel so crappy about this?
I admit it. We all know far to much of my personal identity is wrapped up in my academic identity. Not that I'm different from a lot of us who have been fortunate enough to get to live the academic life. And you know, it's important to me that, even when students hate my class, they like me. I like the bit on the evaluations where the students say I'm always there to help, accessible -- all those mentor-y (and kind of traditional femme-y) qualities that seem to make a big difference even when they are complaining about the work load, etc. And when I can't get the students to play along, it feels like they don't like me.
I should worry more about whether they are learning, but it's hard. And if they aren't doing the work, are they learning? Hmph.
My other class, OTOH, is a joy. We've got a great conversation going on online (not as much participation there as should be, but far better) about ethnocentricm that I'm going to tweak into a conversation about presentism, since they are so closely related. It's a very oddly composed class -- one woman in her 30s, a bunch of much younger women, some wtill in high school, and four guys, two of whom are originally from (I think) East Africa and are probably Muslim (I'm going by the names). One question on sexuality in Classical Greece has provided so many good teaching moments, and I'm so impressed at how these students are willing and able to have what are clearly difficult conversations in such a gender-imbalanced, culturally imbalanced classroom. I feel no sense of success here -- the fact that they are good and involved and interested has nothing to do with me. So If I have no problem taking no credit for the good class, why is it so easy to take the blame for the bad class?
Teacher ego. I think. Maybe as I publish and present more, and broaden my own academic persona, these things will be more balanced, too. Something to think about.