Tuesday, April 28, 2015

something this day

One of the accounts I follow on Twitter, I'll euphemize it slightly here as "[Stuff] Academics Say" regularly posts the statement, "We're all smart. Distinguish yourself by being kind."

I kind of keep that as a touchstone. Because I can't always control how "prestigious" my work is - I have limited time for research, I am not that great of a writer of journal articles, and even then, the vagaries of publication sometimes mean good articles get rejected and poor ones get accepted, or good articles wind up in a smaller journal with smaller circulation because the person who wrote them is not a "big name" and all. But I do have control over how I treat other people.

One of my former students came by earlier today. This is someone I only had in one class. (I would have liked to have had him in more, and he would have taken Soils, I am sure, except he was a transfer student and had already had a Soils class).

I liked having him in class a lot. He was not the top most student ever in terms of grades (but he was pretty good), but what I remember him for was his attitude and the way he treated other people - he was always cheerful and eager for class. He was kind and good-hearted to the other students, especially in lab. (He worked as a UTA here, and I think that experience made him feel a little bit of obligation to his labmates - like, he taught in another class, so if he could do something to help his labmates, he was going to. I'm not explaining it very well...)

He was a kind person. And I'll remember that long after I've forgotten what grade he earned.

He talked to a couple of us, told us he'd miss us (he's going on to a larger school for a Master's degree). He said that he already missed us - I guess he's already taking some classes there. He commented on how huge the classes were and how impersonal things seemed, and he mentioned that he appreciated how welcoming and approachable we always were, and how we'd always listen to him when he had questions.

I kind of needed to hear that today. All too often it's hard in teaching - it's like you're throwing pebbles into a well, but you can't always see if you're creating any ripples or not, and if they're the good kind or the bad kind.

I wish him every success in his future life. And I hope he hangs on to that good spirit and kindness.

(He's also the person who said he liked to try to make me laugh in class - I mean, in lab, when it was appropriate, he always behaved appropriately - if he could. I kind of like that, too. Sometimes I get way into my head way too much and am too serious, and having someone saying something goofy and funny that makes me laugh makes things a little better.)

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