Tomorrow I give my final exam in my Python II class, and today I baked cookies for them. If ind that having a treat for them helps to diminish the stress in the room. As I was making the cookies, my partner, who is also a professor, asked me if my students appreciate what I do for them. I told him I didn’t think so. I mostly teach first and second year undergraduates, so they have very little experience in the college classroom. As far as they know everything I do is just what one should expect from a faculty member. It’s not until much later, when they’ve sat in a lot more classrooms, that they may come to see the things that I did that went beyond what can be expected from many of my colleagues.
It used to be that knowing this was discouraging to me. And then I became a parent, and I started taking a longer view of things. My daughter is very appreciative, much more than many children her age. But there is simply no way that she can know all the things I do for her and the energy required to do them. Still, she does sometimes surprise me with the things that she remembers and with the things she thanks me for in retrospect. She has given me the belief that the effort I make doesn’t go unnoticed, at least not indefinitely. And she has also made me see that it’s often the small things I do that make a big impact. I know I’m a better teacher as a result.