"It Reminded Me Why I'm Doing This"


Last night I submitted final grades for the four classes I taught this semester.  Today I'm slowly decompressing.  There are still a few details to wrap up, of course, like debriefing meetings and clerical tasks.  And for the next few days I'll check email with slight hesitation because there might be a complaint from a student awaiting me. (So far, so good, though.)

But for all extents and purposes, the semester is finished.  It was a good one.

One the last day of class in one of my technical presentation courses, we finished with short professional talks where students presented key take-aways they've learned from their studies as engineering students.  One student said, "I'm glad we finished with these talks.  It reminded me why I'm doing this."

It reminded me why I'm doing this.

I loved that observation.  At the end of a semester, we all -- students and professors alike -- need a reminder about why we're doing what we're doing, no matter how our semester has gone.  (Don't we all need this periodically?  To step back from the grind to look at the bigger picture from an aerial view instead of from our typical vantage point, which is often right in the thick of it?)

For me, my reminder came when several students sent me exceptionally kind end-of-semester notes: notes expressing how they grew as a speaker or a writer more than they thought was possible, or notes that said I not only helped their academics, but also touched their lives.

As I read each one of these messages, it reminded me why I do this.  There are so many reasons why I do this job. 

It's good to end a semester with those reasons fresh in my thoughts.  We all need reminders, sometimes.

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