Two week assessment.
At 8AM, my students are (perhaps) paradoxically the most alert. They're the most willing to discuss, to engage, to participate. True, it takes a bit for them to warm up, but after 5 or so minutes, they're fine. I'm still trying to pump as much caffeine into my body as I can at that early hour of the day. Nearly everyone has something to offer - and you know how rare that is, having an almost 100% participation rate (even though true, a few people didn't deign to show up). They're on time! They have questions! They've obviously gone to class, as they ask questions about lectures! They can extrapolate class topics to stuff they've read in newspapers! (They read newspapers!) They stay around after class to ask me questions. I really like my 8AM section.
For some reason, in this section, I have more than the 20 students who are supposed to show up. That's fine, it doesn't bother me too much. It bothers me a little bit more, however, that over half the class shows up 5 minutes late. It makes it hard to have any introductory announcements, since I have to repeat them at the end anyway. They're a little quieter than my 8AM section, but after awhile I can get them to engage, and they're generally convivial once they're more awake (aren't we all?). Participation is perhaps at 75%, which I would expect to be more normal. They're good kids, my 9AM section. I have no real exultant praise for them, but nor do I have any real complaints.
This section sucks. I am not kidding. They are, if I wanted to be immature, poopyheads. Over half the class comes approximately 10 minutes late, and I'm still missing a good quarter of them. Nobody wants to expend any effort at all. Nobody talks. Nobody has questions. There have been a good number of uncomfortable silences, with me actually tapping my fingers on the table, waiting for someone, anyone, to open his/her mouth. There are two sorority girls in this class who spend the entire time talking across the table to each other, and I want to smack the sorority out of them for living up to their stereotype (which I get to say, since I was in a sorority myself). When I ask them questions (for instance: Does happiness equal affluence? Does wealth equal affluence?), I actually feel like I'm the stupid one for daring to ask them such things (and I only get this philosophical because they already haven't answered my easier questions that have been taken straight from the text, and I am pulling At Straws Here because there are still a torturous 20 minutes left). Nobody wants to share anything, probably because most of them haven't done the reading (I asked) and most of them haven't gone to class (several students had to ask me when I was going to email them the essay topic for the paper that is due this coming Tuesday. It has been posted on the class website since last Tuesday). I can't even get little flickers of recognition to light in the majority of their dim dim eyes. I had to tell them today that they better be more discussion-y next week. Not everyone is so reticent, but even with the biggest talkers, I have to pry any answers out of them. It is because of this group that I will have to email everyone and threaten them with pop quizzes and other general meanness if there isn't more talking going on.