My professor of record, that is, the lecturer for the class I TA for, is done with Comm1210 for good. He's taught this introductory survey course 16 times--the man deserves a medal. It's a hard class to teach. You are completely unappreciated. The course is a weeding out course, so students hate you. You never get to anything interesting because you spend a week on an entire NCA division. It's rough, and it sucks, and he did it for a long time.
And yet, when he gave his last lecture on Wednesday, he was impassioned, inspiring I would say. I respect Dr. Daniell (Dr. D, as he allows us to call him) tremendously, and I think he and I share a lot of feelings on Communication. It's that whole defeat thing. The "are we reaching them; can we reach them? Do they want to be reached?" attitude. Beyond these emotions, I think he was also feeling a sense of loss, or an identity crisis of sorts. He's been doing this for a long time after all, and, though he's not leaving the field or the department, it's a big transition.
Anyway, all of this is set up for the lesson at hand. In a simple gesture, one that I learned as common courtesy from my parents, I picked up a cheap, blank, plain "Thank You" card from the supermarket the other night. I brought it to class with me and told my students the above explanation, and said that, if they did, in fact, feel thankful for having Dr. D as a teacher, they could sign it and tell him. Most did, and I slipped it in his mailbox, really without a second thought. It's just what you do for people who matter to you.
And the way it touched him would be difficult to express here.
It was nothing special--no glorious act of courage or consideration on my part. But, it mattered to him. And I think it may have even mattered to my students, some of them at least, in some small yet significant way.
So this is my call to you, and the meaning of this post. Take the time, what little it really takes, and put forth the effort (also relatively small) to communicate what it means to you that somebody does the things that he does. Something so small. Something so large.