So when preparing the lecture, I thought back to the things that I remembered from my own college professors. The quaint ones. The storytellers. The inspirational ones. That's what I would become. A source of inspiration that they would still remember fifty years from now...
... terrified. That's what I was when I walked into the room. I felt like I was a piece of bait, dropped into an ocean, waiting for the sharks to get me. Surely they could tell I had no clue what I was doing. I was hit by a serious case of imposter syndrome. This was definitely a fake-it-till-you-make-it moment.
Only 50% of the entire class showed up to begin with. Apparently, that's normal (I had counted attendance during one of my sit-ins). Out of those, about 25% appeared to pay some sort of attention. A couple of students were talking amongst themselves. They were over in a corner, I could ignore them and they didn't seem to bother anyone else and I was too damn scared to tell them to zip it or leave. Apparently they had mistaken the lecture hall for a Starbucks. These things happen. Same thing for the guy in the back row, who was wearing a headset while watching a movie on his laptop.
Just like that my whole Mary "I-will-be-firm-but-kind" Poppins courage sank somewhere to the bottom of the ocean. It was replaced by a slightly different mantra. The "Please-don't-throw-any-tomatoes-at-me" kind. No way would I tell these students to pay attention or leave! A quick risk assessment told me that if they would just choose to ignore my orders I would have no idea what to do next. If only I were six feet tall and male, I thought... Then I'd tell them...
Ah well, maybe in a next life.
In the end, no one threw tomatoes. And after the lecture a couple of students came up to me to ask for a bit more details on a part that they had found 'really interesting'. And that's when I realised that perhaps that's all I should ask for. If I can get to five students, that may be worth it. But is that really true? In this day and age, are there still teachers who can captivate a room full of 18 year olds? Should I start using clickers or soapbox or other gadgets that to my opinion only eat up time (and only provide room for technical glitches and the associated mockery) and don't really add anything?
I have decided that I will approach classroom teaching the same way I approach an experiment. Like a scientist. I will change a variable every time and see what happens. Next time, I will ask the group of students to stop talking. Maybe the time after, I will ask the student in the back row if we could plug in his laptop so we can all watch the movie. Or maybe I will think of something really brilliant, and they will all pay attention for two hours straight even though it is almost five o' clock in the afternoon and then they will spread the word and I will get 100% attendance from hence on.
I guess a girl can dream.