The Spring quarter ended for me last week when I finished grading final exams and submitted my grades. The Spring quarter started at the very end of March, which meant that it was the first full quarter that DePaul switched to emergency remote learning due to the pandemic. Arranging the logistics of that meant an early end to my research leave, but as it turns out those remote classes were my lifeline to getting through the uncertain and sad months of April and May. I owe a debt to my students, and this is my thank-you to them.

Thank you for showing up. I recorded and posted each Zoom class session since I didn’t want to assume that you could attend, but many of you came anyway. Seeing your names, and in some cases your faces on the web cams, helped me to have a sense of community. I suspect from the chat logs that some of you felt the same way. Reading the jokes and kudos that you provided to each other in the chat was a fun way for me to spend the time waiting for our recordings to convert.

Thank you for your enthusiasm. When I called on you randomly during class I nearly always got an answer (right or wrong) and not a pass, something I’ve only rarely seen in person. You asked great questions about the material and why were were learning what we were, both during class and by email. I was even inspired to post a recording about object-oriented design based on one of our assignments thanks to the multiple people who tried to optimize code reuse on that question. That kind of engagement isn’t something I always see, and I was appreciative.

Thank you for your passion for learning. It was clear that you really wanted to understand what we were doing. As far as I could tell very few people bent or broke the rules about collaboration, even though the remote format made it easier and more tempting to do that. The number of you who took the final exam once it become optional and even though it couldn’t improve your grade (“for practice” as one of you said) was inspiring. Teaching people who want to learn is a joyous experience, and you provided that to me over and over.

And thank you for your compassion. Some of you showed up early every session to chat with me and others. Many of you supported each other with positive comments in and out of the class sessions. And the pictures of your dogs, cats, and other pets was a fun distraction for me precisely when I needed it. You are an extraordinary group of people, and I was lucky to have been a part of your time at DePaul.