From a teaching evaluation (not mine, but it could have been):
"The professor paced without purpose while teaching."
Questions for the purposes of data acquisition and discussion:
- Do you pace while teaching?
- Does your pacing have a purpose?
- If it has a purpose, is it a good purpose, a psychotic purpose, a pedagogical purpose, or what?
- Does anyone care? (i.e., Has a student ever mentioned it in your teaching evaluations?)
- Or, if you are a student: Do you care/not care if your professors pace, with or without purpose?
I confess: I pace while teaching. To the extent that my pacing has a purpose, it is so I can be a physical presence in various parts of the room at different times during the class, make eye contact with more students, listen to their questions better, try to see what they are seeing when I project something/write something at the front of a large classroom, or just because I get kind of hyped up when I teach and I feel like moving. I don't know if those are good purposes or bad purposes, but I think they add up to purposes, even if students don't know what they are.
As a pacer, I am therefore a fan of (my own) pacing. It didn't occur to me that it might also be distracting to students. I talk while I move around the room, so it's not as if I am walking back and forth silently, staring at the floor and thinking mysterious professorial thoughts during class. I can understand how that might be a bit disconcerting.
The questions above are intended to stimulate discussion of the important topic of professorial pacing. My discovery of this unexplored (by me) topic has demonstrated to me yet again that there is always something strange and new to think about, just when my energy and spirit have been nearly shattered, or at least flattened into a nanofilm, by committee work.
9 months ago