February and March tend to be tough months for me. For the past several years I’ve had a half class overload from January through March which makes a surprising difference in my workload. The largest SIGCSE conference also takes place at the end of February or beginning of March, and that conference involves a SIGCSE Board meeting with lots of people beyond the Board as well as a business meeting for the SIGCSE community. Since becoming treasurer in 2013 (and then chair in 2016) that’s meant a crush of work starting sometime in January. This year it’s meant that a blog post about email and faculty time that I’m itching to write just isn’t happening right now.

But today a few things hit my swollen inbox that really cheered me up. A current Java student of mine (and a Python student from last quarter) is struggling to understand her current Python instructor. She’s been emailing me to get my notes, which she says helps a lot, and tomorrow she’s coming to a make-up class I scheduled (because of the SIGCSE conference) to hear me talk about recursion. It makes me happy that she thinks my Python teaching is so helpful that she’ll show up to extra classes. Today I also got a notification from LinkedIn that one of my former learning-community students wanted to connect. He has a job with a computing-related title at Guaranteed Rate, and seeing one of my former students out there successful in the world makes me happy. And finally an advisee of mine emailed me about her systems class. She’s struggling and worried about what it means for her future in the computer science major. I could very happily tell her the (true) story of my failing a systems midterm exam as an undergraduate to reassure her that a struggle with systems doesn’t mean that computing isn’t the right field for you.

These are all small things, but they each make me feel like what I’m doing is making a difference for some people. And that feeling is a good one to have when you’re tired and overwhelmed.