Maybe I wasn't meant to take E&M, but Professor Savin's teaching style did not do it for me. While Savin is very sweet, I felt that her lectures were very scattered--I wish she would have picked a lecture format at the beginning of the semester and stuck with it or that she would have used PowerPoint in a more productive way. Her notes on the board were very unclear and I often times could not read her handwriting. Her explanations of subjects were also often times lacking. Her teaching style did not mesh well with my learning style.
I took E&M with Professor Hailey at Barnard, and as he explained to us this class went very differently than a large Columbia lecture would. Nevertheless, I thought he was an amazing professor and highly recommend him under whatever circumstances. He is a very inspiring person. He has such a thorough knowledge of physics, and sitting in his class you can tell that he loves what he does, and that is infectious. He successfully can communicate what he knows to students, and if we told him that we didn't understand, he ALWAYS stopped what he was doing and went back and expained until the students understood. He never seemed annoyed to go back and explain anything a student didn't understand. He is very respectful of his students as people-I could go on and on about this but I can also just give the example that once he said in class something along the lines of "I always say that students can be just as smart as professors, it's just that professors have experience in their pockets." He never underestimated the abilities of anyone and he fully recognized when people thought of something really bright. In many ways he is very modest about himself, because from the stories he tells, and his teaching, and his outlook, and what I know of what he has done, he is really a brilliant scientist and thinker and a extremely respectable person all around. Just in terms of work and difficulty his class was completely reasonable, problem sets were very reasonable, exams were incredibly straight forward, there were no tricks, in fact, he would give a practice exam before each exam and say that the problems on the exams would be more or less the same as the practice exam, and that was true. He was open to holding review sessions always... he really did hand a lot of things to the students that he did not have to. Other people may give other criticisms, you can read about them, but it's hard for me to give them because I just had a very positive experience in his class.
Professor Hailey is amazing. He is an extremely fair and considerate teacher, and he really seems to care about his students. He replied to all of my emails, no matter how sporadic they were, and he even took our schedules into account when timing the midterms. I took this E&M class with him at Barnard, where the class size was about 25-30, much smaller than the usual Columbia classes that he teaches, so I don't know how relevant this is, but he always answered student questions and even held informal exam review sessions before every exam. I imagine that a TA would do most of this in a Columbia class. His lectures can be somewhat strange or confusing, but, like I said, he always answered our questions and returned to the material if he felt that he didn't do a good enough job teaching it. Still, I must admit that I did most of my learning straight from the textbook because Professor Hailey talks very fast and his written notes on the chalkboard are very disorganized. I guess it would be better if he wrote more information down on the board, and in an organized way. Nevertheless, by seeming to care about us as actual real people, and in caring more about whether we learned and understood the material than about how good our exam scores were, Professor Hailey inspired me to learn just for the sake of learning physics (this is true no matter how cheesy it sounds). In summary: Professor Hailey = always willing to help, makes you want to learn physics. And no trick questions.
Prof Savin is just about the nicest person in the world. She is also just about the worst professor in the world. She revamped her tests so that if you had never taken physics before you had no chance. Understand that most of the students in this class had taken AP or IB physics. I was told this was the class for those who had not ever taken physics. Needless to say I was crushed. Please try and find a better physics teacher because no matter how hard you try you will not do as well has you hoped because there is practically no curve.