How to appear less intimidating

I haven’t seen my evaluations from last term yet, though I’m sure they’ll arrive in my inbox any day now (we’ve recently switched to online evaluations, which has added a new layer of complications and made the results even less robust than before).I have seen last year’s, however, and they were the usual blend of enthusiasm and disdain, gratitude and offense.

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In a group of nearly 60, the critical mass of both unmotivated and talkative students is bigger, so more students need the chastening “listen up!

” approach while more students are present who are willing to join in a class discussion.

To a certain extent, that was the effect I was going for, at least at the start of term.

This is because I have run into enough Intro students who are taking English only to meet a requirement and fully expect it to be their “bird” course, or at any rate who are strongly inclined to make it a lower priority than their “hard” courses or the ones they see as more important (often, their science courses).

I certainly remember professors I found intimidating, but I didn’t see that as harder, or harsher, than I knew.

(I remember one of my own professors saying to me – quite out of the blue, it seemed!

I did find one, and it was something I hadn’t seen before: a number of comments from students in my section of our first-year “Introduction to Literature” class who felt I was “intimidating.” It wasn’t by any means a unanimous perspective, but enough students used that very word to give me food for thought.

Now, I should say that I don’t consider it an altogether bad thing that some of my students found me or my course intimidating.

And my second question is, how much, if anything, should I change?

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