06 March 2015

Teaching Update...a Thank You Note


Last spring I tried out the flipped classroom approach to teaching, and got a slew of mixed reviews from my students. The first half of session was administered as a traditional undergrad class, then I moved to a flipped model after spring break. One of my students called me crazy--and she was right.

This season has been much better. With this model, it's obvious when students skip the textbook/video elements when we work in class, and I have time to really take notice. The real bonus is that I get to give everyone individual time without holding back the more advanced designers or rushing the novices.

Last week, as I walked around the room answering questions, giving notes, feedback and pointers, I paused to tell one on my more advanced students about her design (above). She was  appreciative of my notes but uncharacteristically monosyllabic. Then I got this email:

Hi Prof Christian-
I just wanted to thank you for being really nice to me today and for giving me a lot of positive feedback. It's incredibly refreshing to have a professor that shows that he/she really cares about students, and also to hear kind words about my work when I feel like my life is completely and utterly imploding….

...I just wanted to say thanks for making me feel welcome in your class.
This is just an excerpt. In reading the full message I got a teary eyed--because this exceptionally talented student outlined her fears and anxieties about not measuring up at what is, apparently, an extremely personally stressful time.

I remembered that in my last semester of grad school was one of emotional strain and upheaval (at one point I lost 10 lbs in 2 days-no exaggeration) and one of my profs paused to talk about a portfolio piece that had me stressed. Her concern and positive feedback gave me the little push I needed to keep going.