The spring quarter started about 10 days ago, and typically it’s the toughest quarter of the year. With only a week between the winter and spring terms, I’m usually tired before classes even start. So I was incredibly happy to both be assigned to classes I really enjoy as well as having one of them be an unusually small (single-digit enrollment) class. And I’ve been enjoying both of my classes a great deal. In the small class I have names memorized and can give them lots of personal attention, and while I’m still working on names in the larger class, I have a great relationship with them already. The larger class has an exceptional number of female and non-binary students (40%), and they as a group seem to take the class more seriously than I’ve seen since before the pandemic. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that it’s the first morning class I’ve taught in several years or if there is something else going on there. But I won’t overanalyze and will simply be happy that they are so receptive to what I have to say and the learning opportunities in the class.
Speaking of students listening, I had a rewarding experience when I reviewed the final exam notes from the winter quarter a couple of weeks ago. In the second quarter Python course I always share with my class a story about a student who forgot, on the final exam, to call the parent constructor when creating an HTML parser. When you do that and try to run the parser, you get a weird error about rawdata. This poor student spent 30 minutes on a 2 hour and 15 minute final exam stuck on the issue before calling me over. I tell them the story to try to get them to remember how important the call to the parent constructor is, and I typically make a joke of it by telling them that it’s a story that will make them cry. Last quarter they played along with the joke better than in previous quarters, pretending to cry after I told the story. So it thrilled me when I saw a reference to that story in one of the final exam note sheets they’re allowed to use on the exam:
It may be aggravating when students don’t listen, but that makes it all the more rewarding when one of them does!