I have finally gotten some key features of teaching down pat. When I was a grad student, I tried to be approachable in class and tried to be fun. However, this got beaten out of me a little when I started adjuncting....I simply didn't have time to think of it.
Since my family leave, however, I've lightened up my demeanor in class. I'm more talkative before class starts. I make more jokes. I'm more likely to engage them in non-lesson related conversations. As a result, my students seem to like me more than before...and this makes classes more fun. Of course, the tattoos and beard might play some role in my new-found popularity. The lesson? Being friendly never hurts...and never underestimate the power of cool, I guess.