The past six months have been a tough time for me, both at work and personally. I suspect most people are aware of the work challenges since I’ve talked about the stress of organizing SIGITE/RIIT 2015, serving on the SIGCSE Board, working to keep my research moving forward, and teaching a new preparation as an overload. I’ve told many fewer people about the personal stress, mostly because it involves me working through some unhappy events from the past and changing behaviors that developed from that. The combination has left me seeking quiet, which is partially why my blogging has dropped off a lot in the past few months.

During this time one of the things that’s stayed stable, much to my relief, is my teaching. Too much stress has diminished the fun of just about everything a bit, but if there’s anything that I consistently enjoy it’s interacting with my students. And especially this quarter I’ve realized that my students cheer me up in ways they probably don’t even realize. So as a thanks to them, I list some of small things they do that make me happy:

  • Ask my opinion about instructors for other classes: Registration for spring quarter is just around the corner, and some of my students have asked me whom I recommend for follow-on classes. That they value my opinion about other instructors means a lot to me.
  • Ask me what other classes I teach: The only thing more flattering than asking me about other instructors is when students make it clear that they would be happy to have me as instructor again.
  • Joke with me about my cats: It’s common for me to use my cats’ names in examples when I write code in class, and there are some students who both know that those are my cats and think it’s as amusing as I do.
  • Ask my advice about internships/jobs/their future career: Not only does asking me about their future mean that they value my opinion, it also lets me share in their hopes and plans.
  • Enthusiastically greet me outside the classroom: There is nothing better than seeing a current or former student who is clearly happy to see you in an unexpected context.