Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Just a quick reminder (because I know adoption decisions for the fall semester are being made as I write), if you would like to receive a copy of the second edition of my Financial Accounting textbook (written with C. J. Skender of UNC and published by Flat World Knowledge) which just came off the press a few weeks ago, all you need do is send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Okay, I’m biased but I honestly believe you will get the best textbook on the market AND your students will each save $100 to $200. In these days and times, those are two very good reasons to give it a look. (If you are interested, drop me a note at Jhoyle@richmond.edu and I'll send you a survey we did of all the students using the first edition just to see how they liked the book.)
I have written this type of blog entry before over the years BUT last night at 9:47 was my very favorite time of the entire semester by far. Right before I entered my final grades for the semester into the university's computer system, I sent the following email out to 15 students (9 in Intermediate Accounting II and 6 in Introduction to Financial Accounting). I had pushed these young people unmercifully the entire semester. People just don’t like to be dragged out of their comfort zone and I had pulled and pushed them daily to be prepared and to think and to work.
Consequently, I really wanted them to know how proud I was of them.
I know they will get a formal report of some type that will show the grade of A. But, somehow that just doesn’t seem to be an adequate amount of recognition. I want them to feel very special.
I often think that the reason we don’t get as much outstanding work as we want from our students is that we don’t acknowledge personally those people who actually do outstanding work. Why work so hard if no one is going to notice?
Here’s what I wrote last night. I really would urge you to consider doing something similar. It might seem corny to you but I bet that it won’t seem corny to the students. (I cannot tell you how many students have written back to me over the years to tell me how much they cried when they got my note about them making an A. I obviously don’t set out to make anyone cry but it does indicate how special the recognition of their hard work can be to a young student. I often say that the world would be much more efficient and effective if we all gave out a lot more pats on the back.)
May 1, 2012
I am sending this note to the nine students who earned the grade of A this semester in Intermediate Accounting II. We started the semester with 52 students but we only had nine (17.3 percent) who earned the grade of A. And, you did – congratulations!! I very much appreciate the effort that it took to excel in such a challenging class. From the first day to the last, we pushed through some terribly complicated material. We never let up, not for one day. And, you did the work that was necessary. You didn’t let the challenge overwhelm you. I am so very proud of you and pleased for you. More importantly, you should be proud of yourself. I sincerely believe that all 52 of those students who started back in January had the ability to make an A. But you nine made it happen. In life, success comes from more than ability. It comes from taking on real challenges and investing the time necessary to make good things happen. I occasionally get frustrated that more students don’t set out to truly excel. However, I cannot say that about you.
As I am sure you know (or remember), I always ask the students who make an A in my class to write a short paragraph (well, write a short paragraph directed to next fall’s students) and explain how you did it. I find this is important. You nine understood what I wanted you to do and you did it. So many students never catch on to what my goals are. It is always helpful (I believe) when the A students one semester tell the students before the next semester “Listen, everyone can make an A in this class but you really have to do certain things.” What are those things?
I only ask two things: be serious and tell the truth. There's really nothing more that I can ask of you.
And, write that paragraph for me before you forget.
Have a great summer. Work hard, learn a lot, see the world, experience great things. There is plenty of time to be a boring adult after you graduate. Open your mind and pour as much into it as you can over the summer.
Congratulations again. It has been a genuine pleasure to have had the chance to work with you.