I blogged about my 16th and in some ways final Chaucer class (final in the sense that I will completely reinvent the thing when I return from my teaching hiatus). I observed that I've never had so much trouble keeping a lively conversation flowing, no matter how many pedagogical tricks I pulled from my increasingly theadbare sleeve. (And here let me note my gratitude to all those who left suggestions for future tricks to attempt: great, inspirational stuff.)
So here is the odd thing about the course. As unhappy as I was with its general feel, especially compared to its past incarnations (versions of which I bonded so closely with my students that I still remain in touch with them) ... Well, despite my dissatisfaction, the students who took the course loved it. The evaluations they turned in rated the class as highly as one can. In the comments sections students spoke with enthusiasm about their love of the material and how it was taught. Several slipped thank you cards into their final exams. A few others left beautiful notes at the end, or shook my hand as they left the classroom and told me how much they'd enjoyed themselves. In the past few days, many have sent me an email note of gratitude; they even waited until I'd turned in the grades so as not to seem like flatterers.
Clearly what I wanted and what the students desired were worlds apart this semester. Has this ever happened to you?