I am teaching Western Civilization Wednesday evenings from 7:00 - 10:00 PM. I was a little worried about this, because it's a three hour block. Even under the best of conditions, three solid hours with one subject and instructor is going to be a challenge. As an example, I took High Middle Ages from Professor Judith Abbott at Sonoma State when I was in grad school. She was a freshly minted Ph.D., full of enthusiasm for her subject, and it was still a struggle for everyone to remain focused for four hours in the evening, especially in the stuffy lower level classroom we had.
Perhaps it is because so many of these are not traditional age students who are taking an evening class because it fits their work schedule. I saw very high levels of engagement and interest, even in the final 30 minutes, when flagging enthusiasm would be most expected. I showed part of the National Geographic documentary The Human Family Tree in the middle of the three hours, and even all the way through, when many students often get a little fidgety, my students remained (at least, to all appearances) engaged and even deeply fascinated.
I am beginning to have some hope that this may be one of the better semesters.