Wednesday, December 02, 2009

There's a first time for everything

I'm a pretty bad "sympathy crier": if I see someone close to me crying, I'm almost certain to join in.

I've had a good number of students cry in my office before (usually out of stress, sometimes out of disappointment), and there've been a few times when I've gotten in on the action.

But I'd never teared up in class before, like I did today when I was telling my 280 students what a wonderful job they've done on so many different things this semester, and how proud I am of them and how much I appreciate all of the work they've put into our course.

To those students: this class is one of the most challenging in our curriculum. I've asked you to prove deep theorems, and to perform complex computations. I've asked you to write proofs, explanations, dialogues, a textbook. I've asked you to review each others' work almost weekly, offering advice to your peers in both in-class presentations and written comments on each others' papers. I've asked you to master a technical typesetting environment, which is in many ways asking you to master a new tongue. You've done all of this willingly, eagerly even, without complaint. At all of these tasks, varied and difficult, you have succeeded beyond my expectations. As individuals and as a class, you've shone. You've soared.

Let me say this again, just so we're clear: I am proud to be your professor. It's working with students like you all that makes me love my job so much and makes me realize that I would never be happier doing anything else.

Thank you. I will miss our class tremendously.

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