At DePaul we are heading into midterms, which means that students are getting more and more stressed.  Usually this manifests itself in quiet, tired attendees who don’t interact much in my classes.  As a result, both of my class sessions today were at times frustrating and difficult, since getting them to talk was like pulling teeth.  But just when I was ready to give up on the day, two things happened to change my mood.

In my accelerated Python class we were developing code from scratch during class.  One of the problems we were trying to solve involved using a while loop.  I have shown them how to write an infinite loop with a break, although I also discussed the drawbacks of break statements.  This particular bunch hasn’t taken to breaks at all.  So today when someone was dictating his solution for the class, he used a boolean to control the while loop.  When I switched it to an infinite loop with an embedded return statement, one of the other students had a (small) fit.  He said returns before the end of functions are his pet peeve.  I laughed and pledged to not irritate him with early return statements.  I also told the class that I admire their pure coding style and that I would emulate it whenever possible.  The teasing back and forth did wonders for the class atmosphere.

Then during office hours one of the students from my other Python class came to ask a question.  He plopped down and said that his homework partner didn’t come with him because “she has a professor phobia” and handed me her flash drive.  I laughed, helped him with their assignment, and then sent him on his way with chocolate bars for both him and his homework partner.  I told him it was to let her know that I love her too.  He thought that was funny.

So I thank my straightforward (and talkative) Python students for making me laugh today.  It was much needed.