We have now hit the hardest part of the academic year for those of us on the quarter system. While most academics I know are complaining about grading final exams, I face another four weeks before I can do the same. And now that Chicago’s weather has finally improved, staying motivated will be a battle for all of us at DePaul.

So as usual this time of year I turn to whatever I can to keep me going. As it turns out this quarter, my morning class is one of those things. In a weird twist that I cannot explain the class has more than a third non-majors and 40% women, including nine people from the College of Communication. I can’t remember ever having a group like this, and some of the things they do make my heart very happy. First, they pay attention much more carefully in class than the usual students. It’s typical that when I’m talking at least a third of the students are actually looking at me, which almost never happens in classes taught in computer labs. They’re also great at asking questions and following the one-hour rule, which makes it much easier to gauge how well they’re understanding things and adapt to it.

But I think the thing about them that makes me the happiest is the personality that they bring to things. They write me comments in their assignments, occasionally make jokes, and put some fun things on the midterm notes they could use during the exam. My favorite has to be someone who included a pet scolding function we wrote in class (demonstrating string processing) and drew an associated picture. I’ve included it below.

(Note that I told them Annika is one of my cats). I laughed out loud when I saw this and shared it immediately with my family who loved it as much as I did. I think when things get hard this week as we (finally) have warm days and less reason to want to be inside working, I’ll come back to this photo for a giggle.