So, for the past year and a half I’ve been teaching a university class to second year students. Every semester the students have a chance to submit feedback about the course instructor, and that feedback is passed on to me. Two days ago I got my feedback from last semester
Overall I generally get pretty positive comments, and this time was no exception. I usually get nice comments, like that I’m helpful and thorough or that I know the material really well. These things are good. But of course there are also a few negative and even downright nasty comments. I try not to take these too hard, but over time I’ve noticed that there is a common theme to these comments.
Apparently I ‘seem unenthusiastic’, or ‘seem like I don’t care’, or even (on one occasion) ‘seem like I hate them’. The thing is, I don’t feel that way at all. I enjoy teaching, I like the material, and really go above and beyond the amount of time I am paid for in preparing material, answering questions after class and by email, and providing feedback to students. It is kind of upsetting to me that people would think that I don’t care, when that is not true.
So, how exactly does someone go about seeming enthusiastic? It’s not a matter of an attitude change, because I already feel enthused, but I guess I don’t seem that way. Unfortunately I can’t change anything significant about the class itself - I lecture three times a week, but being as I’m but a lowly grad student, there is an actual professor in charge and the curriculum and exams are set by him. I feel like I should work on how I’m coming across, but I’m unclear about what I could change when I don’t really understand the basis of the problem.