One of the most challenging things about teaching is maintaining faith in my students. I know that many of them genuinely want to learn. They work hard, ask good questions, and seem quite interested in the material. But the ones who don’t have the best intentions can get me down. The Academic Integrity violations, endless excuses for why they’re not doing their work, constant external blame for their failures, and general apathy can be wearing quarter after quarter.
That’s why when I encounter a student like D, who is in my first-quarter Python class this quarter, I find it so refreshing. He first took Python with me in the Fall quarter 2011. He was clearly smart, asking good questions in class when he was there, but he rarely came to class. He also didn’t do his homework, and as a result, failed the midterm. He dropped soon after. I was surprised to see D register for my class again this quarter, and I certainly didn’t expect his behavior to have changed. But he has dramatically changed! He comes to class every session, participates extensively, and has been very serious about the assignments. I’ve exchanged more e-mail with him than any other student this quarter. And he is doing very, very well. I’ve also discovered that he has a dry and quite enjoyable sense of humor. Looking forward to talking to him has been a bright spot this quarter. That I didn’t anticipate this only makes it all the sweeter.