After more than seven years of teaching, it’s quite difficult to be surprised with anything student related. One has developed a rather realistic perspective of things as well as expectations.
Every semester, I find myself working with students who I have accepted are too busy projecting a meaningful life in their respective online accounts to appreciate the effort and time teachers put into designing class activities and exercises. This I have accepted is the norm.
At around four in the afternoon, one of the newly hired student assistants approached me and handed me a ribboned brown package. A Valentine’s Day present for the supervisor she said. The student requested that I open the package after she has timed out for the day and has left the room. I could sense her embarrassment for the crumpled wrapping and the value of the gift. She said mumbled an apology for the gift. It’s what we could afford, she said. She and the other student assigned to me shared the expenses for the gift. They haven’t even received their first late pay yet. And I haven’t given even them anything for Valentine’s Day.
Minutes after she left the room, I found myself still staring at the gift. I sent them my thanks. The gift was a nice gesture. I need not unwrap the package. I just stared at it and realized how a nice gesture can be such a pleasant surprise.
When the years have trained you to expect a high sense of entitlement and self-centeredness by default from all the students you encounter, you forget how to respond to a few exceptions. I can finally add one positive entry about work.