Today I am thankful for students who surprise.
This semester, there was one student who frustrated me fairly consistently. I referred to him at home as Mr. Annoy. His gave off an incredibly arrogant attitude, as if the class were completely beneath him and a waste of his time. He often missed assignments, and a few times, when he did one, he added comments that made it clear he did not like what he was doing. He waited to hand in a major essay until the very last day before he would get a zero grade.
He was mostly annoying because he is so bright. This kid has writing skills and an analytical mind. He needed little guidance to dig deep into content, though we're still working on why you would want to analyze an author's writing strategy choices. He's smart, and he has it in him to do really creative work. He's the sort of person you would want to have lengthy conversation with.
During our writing conference today, I braced myself for push back about my comments. But, in a surprise move, he agreed and elaborated on each comment I made; and when he didn't, explained his choices carefully and listened as I offered tips on how to make his points more clear. He even thanked me for catching some comma mistakes.
I left the office for the day with a humble reminder that, though they look grown up, my college freshmen are still young and finding their way. I'm thankful that we had this time for a one to one conference so he could remind me that people are complex, and sometimes come across publicly in ways that do not reflect their true selves. This conference gave a more clear picture into how his writing mind works and how much thought he really puts into assignments. I'm thankful that he took the time to have this conversation with me to guide me through the gruff exterior to his intellectual best self.