Student Reflections on Calculus

Nearing the end of the school year, but when things are still in full swing, I ask students to write a letter to themselves… to themselves at the beginning of the year. The letter should outline things that they learned about the class, about me, about whatever in hindsight that would be helpful for them to know to be successful in calculus class. [1]

I promised them — crossed my heart, hope to die, and all that — that I wouldn’t look at them until after final grades were in, so they should be SUPER honest.

What I get from these letters is not only insights into my students, but more than anything else, deep insight into me as a teacher. It also reveals a lot to me about my about students. Without further ado, here are the relevant excerpts [2] of each of these letters which I’ll be handing out on the first day of class next year. (And before you ask, some of the things in these letters are inside jokes between the class and me.)

[1] At the beginning of this year, I handed out excerpts from the previous class’s letters.

[2] I pretty much included everything relevant… the good, the bad, and the ugly… the stuff I cut out either identified the student or were fluffy sentences that had already been captured.


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