Yesterday I gave midterm exams in both my classes. It’s an anxiety-laden time for them, of course, since, well, it’s an exam, so they tend to be more serious than usual. But my favorite class proved to be an exception to this rule, which shows me again why I like them so much.
But first, some background: I have them take exams on the computer, mostly because it’s a more accurate measure of what they’ve been doing both in class and while doing the homework. I post a template file to the course management system, sometimes with some starting code, which they download just before taking the exam. But I hand out a paper exam with the questions. In part this is because I sometimes have students who take the exam early or late, and I don’t like the questions to circulate until everyone is done with the exam.
So as I was giving them instructions, but before I handed out the paper with questions, one of the students asked if the questions were going to be loaded to the course management system. I said no, that I would be handing them out on paper. As I continued with some instructions, someone raised his hand. When I called on him, he asked: “What is this paper you speak of?” Everyone laughed as I explained it’s something made out of trees.
It made me very happy that they could joke around just before an exam and also that they had a bit of comic relief right when they needed it. And it made me realize that it’s almost always the funny ones, the ones who joke with me and/or who appreciate my jokes, who are my favorites. I’m just such a sucker for a good sense of humor.