Gratitude From Your Students
Welcome to the sixth year of our Thank-A-Professor Program, which invites students and alumni to send messages of thanks anonymously to their professors. Students have submitted hundreds of tributes this fall, and we hope reading some of them will make a wonderful start to your Thanksgiving break.
We’ll be sending your individual letters over the next few weeks. In the meantime, here are the three themes we noticed most often in the submissions. We hope that each of you feels appreciated!
1. Building Relationships
The relationships you’ve built with and among your students make learning possible; rather than a nice accompaniment to skillful teaching, connecting with students is fundamental for their intellectual, professional, and personal growth. In Relationship-Rich Education, Peter Felten and Leo Lambert explain, “Decades of research demonstrate that peer-to-peer, student-faculty, and student-staff relationships are the foundation of learning, belonging, and achieving in college. Students’ interactions with peers, faculty, and staff positively influence the breadth and depth of student learning, retention, and graduation rates, and a wide range of other outcomes, including critical thinking, identity development, communication skills, and leadership abilities” (p. 5).
This year, we noticed that many students’ expressions of gratitude also made this connection between the relationships you took care to develop with them and their learning and success in your courses. Here are just a few of many examples:
- This class is one of the first classes that showed me how interesting a college class can be. As a freshman, it’s easy to feel lost in the shuffle but this professor does a great job of making his students feel heard and understood as well as providing challenging and interesting assignments that allow introspection and creativity while still demonstrating understanding of the material.
- [My professor] has been a very understanding and compassionate professor. He genuinely cares about the well-being of those he teaches. He is great at what he does. He has the ability to captivate your attention while teaching the subject matter. I can honestly say that I look forward to going to his lectures and learning what he has to teach. He has a refreshing sense of humor and is overall a good person. Thank you, Professor!
- Thank you for always making class fun & engaging!!! Most importantly, thank you for truly caring about each and every student. You take the time to learn each name, greet us as we come into class, and ask about our lives outside of the classroom. This doesn’t go unnoticed, I’m very grateful for you.
- Thank you for the deeply humanizing and impactful learning experiences you’ve created this semester. The thoughtfulness you show both inside and outside the classroom continues to make a tremendous impact.
- [My professor] is by far the best professor I have had. Her energy and passion for biology is evident and makes such a difference. The classroom climate she has created is so welcoming and a safe space to fail, learn from your mistakes, and succeed. [My professor] goes beyond just caring for a student’s academic success, but really shows that she cares about the mental health and well-being of each individual. Her enthusiasm and devotion to teaching helps show students that they are supported, and that she is rooting for them to succeed.
- [My professor] has treated all of his students with equal respect and dignity. He understands what we go through as students, and reflects this in his class. The way he conducts his class has made me love history even more than I already do, and I commend [my professor] for being able to inspire us!
- Thank you so much for your work this semester. You have been an amazing professor and I have learned a lot in your class. Thank you for being open to my questions and making the effort to learn my name. I really appreciate it!
- [My professor] took the time to recognize my desire to understand course content and programming concepts in general, especially when it comes to memory management. She never shooed me away or made me feel like a bother, and actually encouraged and helped me to gain a better understanding of programming. She once told me to not panic, and to not feel like an imposter, because we’re all learning and we learn at different paces. Any time I showed up for office hours I was warmly welcomed and she took the time to make sure I understood the problem and possible solutions before letting me go. I’ve never had a professor encourage reaching out like she did, and I hope to have her again before graduating. Thank you, Professor. If it weren’t for your encouragement and kindness I might not have continued in this program. Computer science is a tough major, and it means the world to know someone believes in you.
In their messages of gratitude, students described how your contagious enthusiasm inspired them to learn, and how your support inspired them to keep going even when they doubted themselves. Many mentioned how you inspired them to pursue a certain academic or career path, one they might not have considered without your influences and awesome example. Here are a few example of their messages in this theme:
- I’m not sure there’s a single student in [my professor’s] course that hasn’t fallen in love with the art of chemistry and the complexities of it. His passion for his career is something that cannot be mimicked and to say it’s infectious is an understatement. Through what he has ignited within me I hope to become half the scientist/researcher/empath that he is in the eyes of his students.
- I just wanted to thank you for always being a kind and understanding professor. I’ve taken your classes multiple times, and I have learned so much from you! A lot of the tools and information I use in other classes stems from what you taught me. I can really tell how much time and dedication you put into all of your classes to make sure they’re fun and engaging. You have inspired me to go to grad school and piqued my interest in rhetoric and digital media! So, thank you for being so foundational to my education and being an amazing teacher!
- I want to thank [my professor] for her willingness to always be open to questions and to further explain a topic. As a political science and history major, science is not my strong suit and I tend to struggle to understand many of the concepts. However, [my professor] takes time to explain things thoroughly so that people like myself can not only understand the content of the class but actually find it interesting. [My professor]’s teaching has undoubtedly inspired me to be more open to taking more science classes and not be so afraid of simply asking the instructor to elaborate when I do not understand a concept.
- [My professor] goes above and beyond to educate and inspire his students. One of my first professors when arriving at FSU, he has become a mentor paving the way for all FSU and the social work profession have to offer. I had the pleasure of taking two courses, and both provided invaluable insight and resources. Thank you, Professor.
- I’d like to thank this professor for having such an engaging class and creating a really exciting and interesting curriculum. Thanks for fostering an environment that is engaging and low stress so that students can be excited to come to class and really learn something each class. Also thanks for being such a passionate teacher! It’s refreshing to come to class with a teacher you can tell absolutely loves what they do. This has been one of my favorite classes at FSU and I look forward to it each week.
3. Efforts to Help Them Learn
The work that you do to help your students learn does not go unnoticed! They made hundreds of comments about your effective teaching methods, the interesting projects you assigned, the helpful feedback you provided, and your willingness to answer questions. Here are some examples of students’ thanks for all you do to help them learn:
- [My professor] is the best professor I’ve ever had. After failing organic chemistry last semester, I took it this fall with him, and things have changed drastically. You can tell that he wants his students to learn. Not only does he want them to learn but he wants them to succeed and feel as if they are actually contributing something to this place. He has made me love organic chemistry (something that still makes me laugh when I say it) and I am forever grateful to him for the kindness that he shows me everyday.
- [My professor] always has time to go above and beyond for each of her students. She makes each student feel welcome and included and seen in a way that few professors do. More than that, she takes an approach to her teaching wherein you grade yourself, allowing you to take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them. She will often coach students through difficult areas, guiding them to better areas of research. Should I continue with my degree program, she is who I would ask to be my major professor.
- [My professor] has demonstrated such care and genuine interest in her student’s academic success. [My professor] takes time each class period to check-in and provide the necessary resources we may need in order to be successful at FSU. Her teaching style and approach makes me feel comfortable to share my thoughts and makes me unafraid to ask questions. I have genuinely enjoyed learning the material in her class and want to give her a shout out for being such a wonderful professor.
- I would like to thank [my professor] for challenging me to think deeply about environmental issues. Her class has been a wealth of knowledge, and she is great at explaining complex issues in a way that is relatable and easy to understand. I would also like to thank her for taking the time to provide thoughtful feedback on assignments. This has really pushed me to improve and grow.
- Thank you for making difficult subjects easier to talk about. You are truly an amazing educator, always willing to accommodate others’ needs and feelings throughout the course material. Despite how hard some of this is to absorb, you’ve made us feel safe learning about it and asking questions about it. I cannot thank you enough for your approach on this topic.
- Thank you for everything you do! Every assignment you require us to do is super helpful…I’ve never attended an extra help session but I’ve heard they’re super helpful too. You truly care about your students and I don’t even mind waking up at 9am to attend your class.
- I would like to thank [my professor]. She was so helpful with feedback while I was in her class. I never felt lost when I was in her class. She also has a really engaging teaching style and you could tell she enjoyed what she was teaching. She also took the time after I was no longer in her class to speak about my career goals and what I could do to get there. She was friendly and very knowledgeable. She helped me think about things I didn’t even consider. I am very grateful for all of her help.
- Thank you for being so passionate about helping your students succeed. I am beyond thankful for the extra hand that you are willing to lend students to help us successfully understand the course material. You help so many students find a new love for learning and economics every single day.
- Thank you for guiding me and helping me build my CV and future. I have learned a lot from you already and I really enjoy working together. I just wanted to say thank you for being a great teacher, and now, a great mentor. I appreciate all of the opportunities you have exposed me to this year.