I had put extra time and effort into the brief lecture, including the pictures. I had found some video clips of T. Rex that I thought they would like and explained the context.
Some days, you go to teach a class just because it's your job, but on this day, I was pumped and excited.
As I wound up the whole thing and the video clip finished, I asked "Are there any questions?'
What I expected as I stood there:
- "Wow, I didn't know T. Rex could move that fast"
- "Who knew that T. Rex had feathers?"
- "What do you mean that less time separates us from T. Rex than separates T. Rex from the stegosaurus? That blows my mind."
- "Are you going to hand back our quizzes now?"
Now, they're a nice if quiet group, and I realize that I shouldn't let this get to me. But it did. I was totally deflated even in my other classes and, yes, oddly sad for the rest of the day. I started questioning whether I should even be teaching.
Rationally, this is nuts. Classes come and go, and individual class hours are unpredictable. We've all had spectacular days in the classroom sometimes and so-so days other times and "kill me now" days at least once in our careers.
Rationally, I know that they don't have to like what I like. They have their own interests that I doubtless don't share, and, while I try my level best to choose interesting as well as pedagogically useful materials, that's something you can't always predict.
But irrationally, I wanted them to share a little excitement about dinosaur studies. Irrationally, I felt that I'd taken a risk, like giving them a caprese salad only to have them demand the usual pizza.
And thinking about it now, I realize that we really need both perspectives. Yes, they have their own interests, and rationally that's fine, and I try to work with that as much as I can. But if I stop being excited about what's happening in the classroom and wanting them to love what I love in terms of literature, then what am I even doing?