One of many terrible things that can happen to you as an instructor is when you ask a question to a classroom full of students and are met with dead silence. Blog readers, allow me to introduce you to my morning class.
Over the years, I’ve come to expect a quieter class where students drift in and out of consciousness. I usually have a handful of students willing to speak their mind, right or wrong. They keep the class interesting. As an instructor I tend to keep my discussions light-hearted and relatable but full of purpose. I enforce the idea of “safe discussion” in their minds by reminding them that there is usually no correct answer, just opinions and observations to share. There is no judgment. “We are all among friends,” I like to say. I’ve even learned to pause for a good amount of time to allow the wheels to turn in their heads before I decide to save us all from the silence.
Today, I heard crickets… or maybe that was wishful thinking on my part.
I promise, they were all fully conscious today. I don’t even recall seeing anyone yawn either. Not that I’m boring. I’m not. They are usually tired.
Anyway, this is how it goes I guess. Each semester, each section of the courses I teach has a different personality. This group happens to scribble down whatever is up on the projection screen and then sits quietly as I ramble out examples and ask what they think might be rhetorical questions. (They aren’t by the way.) This group is the toughest one to teach because there is no feedback through their facial expressions or anything else for that matter. This section appears to be “the quiet one.”