Why am I surprised?

Today I received the evaluations my students completed on the last day of our classes this past semester. I don’t know why I am surprised to read the kind, constructive words they all wrote — yes, every one of my students had something nice to say. The evaluations are anonymous and I submitted grades weeks ago, so there’s no reason for anyone to write anything other than the truth.

I still cringe when I open the sealed envelopes. For some reason, I expect criticism or negativity, but I only find positive, kind comments of appreciation. I don’t know why I am surprised. I’ve been receiving these same kinds of positive evaluations for the past 7 years.

Maybe it’s the feeling that because I had so much fun throughout the semester, I feel “guilty” that I didn’t make it tougher or more challenging for myself and my students? (I know that sounds a little crazy, but I think we’ve been “conditioned” to believe that if we’re having fun, we’re really not learning…) Or maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve always been uncomfortable being on the receiving end of compliments — I prefer to be the one giving out the compliments!

Whatever the cause may be, I think I finally realize it’s time to stop being “surprised” by the positive words and to simply accept the great gift these words bring to me: encouragement that reinforces the passion, dedication, and enthusiasm I try to bring to every one of my classes so that my students and I can continue to enjoy the learning process together. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share, learn and work with my students every semester. To each of them, I say, “thank you.”

How about you: Are you surprised when someone compliments you or praises your efforts? How do you feel? And, if you are surprised, do you understand why?


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