I had the second half of the class I was frustrated with... meaning I'm frustrated with the whole class, and half of the class on Wednesday and the other half today. I was dreading the class even after preparing for it better than I had been on Wednesday. I found a chapter of a reference book that discussed the subject, made copies of it for everyone, and passed it out first thing in class. I talked about what it was a little bit before starting into the resources. I also was informed of a better database for the subject. It was a major database, but I didn't realize this subject was covered so well in it.
Anyway, this made a WORLD of difference. It was like night and day. They were not so resigned to failure, they had no problems finding examples in newspapers, nor finding scholarly articles. They asked good questions and left with a pile of sources to use over the weekend. They still may not know how to write the paper, but at least they have good resources.
I sent an e-mail to the students who had been in the Wednesday class and invited them to pick up copies of the reference article at the reference desk. I don't know if any have, the pile looks as big as it did yesterday. But at least I have done what I could to make up for not knowing everything I needed to know. Not that it was my fault. I have to remind myself of that. I was raised Catholic, I'm always feeling guilty about something.