Dear students,

I’m writing this to let you know how much it meant to me that you showed up to office hours yesterday. Your questions about the assignment showed me that you had been working hard on it and that you were interested in learning what the assignment was about, not just in getting full points once it’s graded. You then went on to ask me about programming in general and broader questions about computer science, and answering those questions was the best part of my day. That those questions even occurred to you shows me that you love computer science as much as I do, and that’s a wonderful thing to see.

What you didn’t know is that I had an awful meeting with a student just before you came in. That student showed me in all that he did that he wasn’t interested in learning. He simply wants to get his points on the assignment and move onto the next class. As an instructor I sometimes focus too much on those students, partially because it’s too easy to focus on the negative and partially because it’s discouraging to try to teach people who don’t want to learn.

But your visit snapped me out of the funk, and I was grateful for it. I’m also grateful for the student I met earlier in the day who is excited to be working on a research project that’s been lying dormant for a year. His energy and our meetings are keeping me focused in a way that’s difficult when you’re working alone. I’m also looking forward to working with three students on a new research project in the summer, picking up a problem I haven’t considered in a decade. I probably wouldn’t make the time to tackle that problem again if it weren’t for your suggestions. And finally I’m grateful for all the students who enthusiastically greet me in the hallways or even on the trains when I see you again after weeks, months, or years. It makes me happy to hear how you’re doing and that you take the time to stop me and talk, even for a minute or two. I’m going to try to remember to focus more on you, the students who care, since you’re the ones who make my job so enjoyable.


Amber (aka Dr./Professor Settle)