Have You Thanked a Student Lately?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, many folks have been posting, on various platforms, all the things for which they are thankful.  Some of them post weekly, and some even daily.  I have decided to focus what I am thankful for most on this single post.

Of course, I am thankful for many things; my beautiful wife (of just over a month), my loving puppy that brings us much joy, a supportive and warm family, dedicated friends, motivated colleagues, good health, financial stability and much more.  However, this post is meant for those for whom I am thankful every day, but never really tell them; my students.

Most of us enter this field for its intrinsic benefits.  At our cores, we are helpers and are dedicated to student success and development and thrive off of their growth, celebrating their successes more emphatically than our own.  We make significant bonds with these students and often continue to keep in touch with them long after they graduate.

Many of us that supervise students spend hours, and several dollars, on student employee recognition programs.  We have awards, give out some fun items, and celebrate them in many formal ways.  How many of us, though, take the time to just say “thank you.”  I am talking beyond a “thank you for doing your job well,” or “thank you for helping out on this project.”  I am talking more about a simple thanks just for being who you are, for making me laugh, or making me proud.  Many of us would not be in this field, literally, if it were not for our students; our departments could not function fully without them.  Further, many of us would not be in this field if it were not for our direct, daily interaction with students.

My mentor sums it up best when we debrief with our Orientation Leaders after three long weeks of hard work and no sleep.  He genuinely thanks them for allowing him to come to work every day truly happy to be in his dream job.  I don’t think he means this in a literal sense with all of the administrative tasks he has to complete each day; but in a more holistic sense that his work is fulfilling, meaningful and focused on his students.

No matter how bad or busy my day may be, I can always count on at least one interaction with a student that rejuvenates me, challenges me, makes me smile, or reminds me why I do the work that I do.  My students fail to realize how impactful their smiles, hard work, jokes, and conversations with me are.

As I reflect on what I am thankful for and vow to express my gratitude to others more, I ask you this: Have you thanked a student lately?


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