I just walked out of the classroom, down the stairs, and across the courtyard to the building where I office. It was the final session of the summer for the Managerial M.B.A. program for full-time professionals. It's the end of their two-year program.
I don't know how they do it, these students with jobs and families, many of whom commute from other cities for the Saturday classes. It's not just the effort required to attend class, it's also the level of effort they put into their work, which translates to high-quality finished products. These highly-motivated students want to be in school and want it enough to work hard. They are a joy to teach. And, as with the bright, motivated teams with whom I've worked, these students challenge me to work hard. In some ways, it doesn't feel as though I'm teaching at all.
And the last sentence is the shadow side, perhaps, of this experience. The students who need teaching the least are the ones who are the easiest to teach. Instructors love the self-motivated high performers. Part of why we love them is because they make us look good.
The structure of this capstone course means that I lectured very little and spent the majority of class time with small groups of students engaged in work; as a result, I was fortunate enough to be able to know them far better. And I will miss them.