A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way

Professor Heidi Welch speaks to her class. Some students now thank her after class.

This semester at Castleton University at the end of classes, some students have been offering a simple “thank you” to their professors as class is ending.

In other classes, however, it has been just a scene of rapid black boxes leaving the Zoom screen. 

Professor Heidi Welch, the director of music education at Castleton, said she has noticed the thank yous – and she loves them. 

 “I have been so pleasantly surprised by this and can’t say enough about how nice it is to hear at the end of a class,” she said. 

Math professor Sue Generazzo has also noticed.

“I find that students in my classes have been saying thank you at the end of our Zoom class, much more than when we were face to face. I love this! I try to remember to thank the class too. I think the pandemic has taught us to appreciate each other. I always enjoy seeing my students’ faces on the camera, because I really miss seeing them in person!”

This past year has been anything but ordinary. Everyone has had to adapt many aspects of their lives and at times deal with an impossible number of changes. The biggest hurdle, most would probably agree, was how to adapt an entire educational system to fit our new at-home lifestyles. Students and educators began transforming corners of their apartments and homes into neat occupied spaces for an early morning meeting, with the rest of the space a disaster. 

According to Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan’s blog post last year, the “This [new usage of Zoom] includes over 90,000 schools across 20 countries that have taken us up on our offer to help children continue their education remotely.” 

An informal Instagram poll showed that 86% of respondents said they do say “Thank you” to their professors at the end of the Zoom class. 

“I started saying it to Dr. Generazzo first. I knew she was doing a lot for her community; she is genuinely a good person who deserves a thank you for teaching us,” said senior Joe Yarbrough

Fellow Castleton student Ace Burtonboy said he usually does say thank you, but sometimes classmates have extra questions after class or busy schedules on either side and feels it’s better to not interrupt. 

Izzy Gogarty, a former Castleton student, now a health teacher in Middlebury said, has put her own spin on the thank you.

“I say thank you to my students. It’s so cute!” she said.

Welch talked about a recent 8 a.m. class and how about halfway through the lecture, staring at black screens, she fell into a slump. Although there were a handful of students in the class actively engaging, she couldn’t help but search for the ‘aha moments’ to reel them into the discussion. 

“Having students acknowledge that hard work and preparation in a simple way by saying “thank you” can sometimes make a rough day so much better.  To know that some students ARE there and ARE listening even if we don’t see them…it helps a lot,” she said. 

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