Saturday, September 8, 2012

Some Appreciation...

Probably the very best moment of the year for any teaching faculty member is the moment when the last lecture is over and the class applauds.  You are happy to just be done with another exhausting term;  but moreover, it is  really wonderful when students show their appreciation for your hard work, and for the subject.   

I should say at this point, that Oxford students are extremely good about showing appreciation of faculty.  (I suppose this should not have surprised me, but when I arrived here I was not expecting it).  The students always say "thank you" at the end of every tutorial.  Most of them really do seem to understand how much work teaching is -- and most of them do realize that they are very lucky to have so much personal attention from faculty members. 

One gets positive feedback in other ways too.  Of course there are the official student evaluations.  Mine are usually good ---  I work hard to make sure of it.   I take it very hard when even a single evaluation is negative.  Maybe I shouldn't care so much, but I do.

There can be occasional awards as well.   Last spring I was thrilled to be nominated as a finalist for a teaching award from the Oxford Student Union.  (Look here for details).    

And there are some random other ways students show gratitude.   This year, the graduating Somerville students got me a plant -- a bromeliad (wisely chosen because it is fairly hard to kill --- and so far it is still alive!).

... and then there are occasional creative types of appreciation:  After my last lecture last spring I found in my "pidge" (i.e., mailbox)  the picture shown above by an anonymous student.   The topic of the lecture was self-consistent mean field theory in magnetism.   (Note the magnet in the upper left hand corner, and the words "self-consistency" featured prominently.   Not sure what the flower is doing there though).   It is not a bad likeness of me, no?   It certainly made me smile.

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