Tomorrow is the last day of the winter quarter, which means it’s time for yet another round of classes to end. The end is more difficult for me than usual since I had a large cohort of first-quarter Python students join me in the second-quarter Python class. Saying goodbye to them is sad given how much I bonded with many of them. But it also reminds me how my teaching has made me a better parent and person.
One of the hardest things as a parent is to move from being your child’s everything, his or her whole world, to someone he or she can barely stand to be around. While the pulling away is crucial for children to grow up and move on, it’s tough on the parents. I see the beginnings of that now even though my daughter is only eight. It’s both freeing and heartbreaking, sometimes at the same time.
But I’m grateful because my students have given me so many chances to practice that dynamic. When they come into a class, they’re enthused and slightly intimidated. They listen, work hard, and seek your approval. Then the time comes when they know what you were supposed to teach them. The quarter is ending, and they’re ready to move on. The sweet ones will tell you how much the class (and you) meant to them, but some who you know enjoyed the class won’t do that. They hand in the last assignment or exam and walk away, in many cases forever. And you’re both happy to see them move on and sad that you won’t have them in your class anymore.
For me it’s a quarterly exercise in non-attachment, which as hard as it may be will prove to be very beneficial as I watch my daughter grow up and pull away. It also makes me a better person, which is something very few people are lucky enough to be able to say about their jobs.