Today was awesome.
What’s amazing is that I can confidently write that the day was awesome knowing full well that I didn’t accomplish almost anything that I wanted to accomplish today.
I woke up feeling less than 100% my usual self this morning1, forced myself through the motions of making breakfast, showering, and getting dressed (all the while wishing nothing more than the luxury of curling back up in bed with the wee fuzzball and sleeping for another 30 years or so), and trudged off to my first meeting of the day.
The meeting was schedule to run from 9:00 to 11:00, and amazingly it was on schedule. Following the meeting several of us remained behind to chat. By the time I left it was 11:20; plenty of time to get to my class at 11:30 if – and this is a big if – I were on campus. But, dear readers, my first meeting was actually at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo. This meant that I had exactly 10 minutes to travel from Waterloo to Guelph, get to campus, and race to my class.
Worst professor ever2!
Clearly I was late to class; arriving on campus at 12:00 (30 minutes after I was scheduled to begin my lecture for those of you who are keeping score). As I quickly walked down the hall to my classroom, I took a deep breath expecting, well, I’m not sure what I was expecting – chaos; half the class missing because they were tired of waiting; students goofing off; students sleeping; students doing anything but scholarly activities. What I saw left me gobsmacked.
At the front of the class – four students. On the projector – notes related to the topics we had been covering, and a Google Doc that they were actively editing. The class was attentive and engaged in an active discussion related to the class project they are all tasked with completing by semester end. No one was goofing off. No one was sleeping.
This was the moment when my day was officially upgraded from good to awesome.
I stepped into class and took a seat, letting the students finish up their discussion and enjoying the moments completely. One of the leaders asked if I wanted my classroom back. I smiled, thought about it for about half a millisecond, and replied No, carry on – don’t let me stop you. And I couldn’t have been more serious. I was so enjoying the situation that I couldn’t help but smile.
It took me half a moment or so to realize that I wasn’t just smiling; I was beaming. I was so incredibly impressed and proud of my students that I couldn’t help myself. Any doubts I had prior to this class about how involved my students were in relation to their course project melted away.
What I witnessed today was incredible; an act of self-learning that far exceeded anything I could ever offer the students by simply lecturing to them. They were immersed in the project; actively debating its major characteristics and even its subtle nuances. I figured the best thing that I could do was to do nothing at all. And so that is what I did; sitting there observing, sometimes offering an opinion, but mostly in silence. A proud, beaming, smiling kind of silence.
Today was awesome.
1 I’m trying to determine if I’m getting sick, or if it’s allergies, or if I’m just tired. Either way, I feel blurgh.
2 Okay, maybe I’m not the worst ever. I did message them about 20 minutes before I left to remind them I would be late – as I had already informed them yesterday that chances were likely that I would be late today.