Business Math, taught to 300 students, with one undergraduate assistant. This is a population who often hates mathematics; quite a few students are graduating seniors, having put off this final graduate requirement to their last semester, dreading it each step of the way. I was dreading it too, a 300 person class would be so depersonalizing to my students (and to me). I wasn’t sure I could handle it, or create the human environment that I wanted to.
I am sure that I failed with many of my students, but at the end of the semester, one sent me this:
Before I say goodbye to Texas A&M tomorrow I just wanted to thank you for being a great professor this semester. If anyone hated math, it was ME. I have always struggled with math and as I’m sure you know, that is a sure way to lower someone’s self-esteem in the subject forever. I knew that I had to take this math class in order to graduate (ovbiously avoiding it until the last minute) and I guess it ended up becoming my final challange here at A&M. Before I even walked in on the first day I would find myself actually crying about it and just feeling so hopeless (yes, lame I know) but this is how afraid of the subject I was. I decided on the first day that only I had the power to change this. I went to every week in review, did all of the homework problems, never missed one class, and even bothered you or Sydney nearly every day before class with questions. Through everything, I am so glad I did. It’s not always the most fun thing to sit in a math review for two hours voluntarily every week, but I kept at it and each time I left I would feel a little more confident. When I got an A on the first exam, I actually re-checked elearning every day to make sure that you didn’t make some kind of mistake! From then on I knew that I could do this. Although the material definitely got harder, I noticed how my attitude had changed so much. I no longer found myself pouting all the time about it. I just knew that it had to get done.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, although I didn’t make a perfect score in this class, I passed, and at the beginning of this year I was looking at that as something completely impossible. Thank you so much for caring about your students and wanting us to succeed. I didn’t feel like just a number in this huge class–I felt like a student that mattered. I am so proud of myself and can end my time here knowing that I am not a complete failure when it comes to math. It may not be my strongest subject, but when you put in the work, it WILL pay off in the end. Just like you say, it’s like training for a race. I just wanted you to know that you are a wonderful professor here and your future students will be lucky to have you (bad math jokes and all). 🙂
(Used with permission).
I guess I did something right that semester after all. I tear up every time I read that.