December 15, 2011

Well, it finally happened. This morning was the last day of the semester for my NYU journalism class. Now that it’s over, I am out of the teaching business. Starting Jan. 1, I’m back to full-time reporting. So the goodbyes today with my students were extra bittersweet.

And I wasn’t the only one who left NYU today. Our intensive, four-credit “Food Writing” course consisted of 11 seniors. Nearly half of them are winter college graduates, which means this was their last semester. The rest of them will put on their caps and gowns in May. For all of us, the future beyond NYU is exciting and scary!

We spent our final four-hours in wrap-up mode. Not easy since my poor students were exhausted. Most of them were operating on very little sleep because they were up working on their 3,000-word final stories. In addition to the written assignment, they had to make 10-minute oral presentations based on their pieces.

They gave me homework too. My classes always instigate last-day parties. But these were seniors who were thinking big and they suggested…a champagne brunch. Now that’s the spirit! Besides, this is NYU, which means everyone has expensive tastes. And personally, I felt they deserved the treat because they pushed themselves pretty hard for me.

I brought in two bottles of champagne and orange juice for mimosas. The menu also included fresh bagels with cream cheese, lox, capers and tomatoes. One of the students baked a delicious pumpkin bread.

At one point, a few of the students revealed that they were up at 3 a.m. chatting on Facebook to keep each other going. Translation: They were up all night complaining about my class. After sharing this interesting tidbit, they let me peek into their Facebook so that I could see exactly what they said.

What a special gift! Hmmm, at last — I was a fly on the wall. They logged 38 (!) comments in a very funny, profane conversation that had me rolling:

I’ve blocked out their names to protect the guilty. It was fascinating to track their discussion on journalism stuff. In terms of shop talk, they advised each other on AP Style, nut grafs & leads.

When class ended, I gave out a lot of hugs. Some of them came back for more than one hug and that made me want to cry. I hope I wasn’t acting too emotional but I kept thinking that my teaching career started seven years ago in an NYU classroom. How fitting that it would end today in another NYU classroom.

And now, we’re all moving on…


At the journalism building, there’s a security guard who would be there whenever I hauled my class out on field trips. Sometimes we’d chat and he’d ask, “Where are you taking your ducklings today?”

Oh, sad! No more classes.

No more ducklings.

But at least some of them will still be bird enough to tweet. After our goodbyes, one of my now-former students reappeared. Tweets are public but I decided to block out her name just to be consistent in how I treat students in this post. :)

I also felt like doodling over her profile photo; a little online graffiti never hurt anyone:

It’s so nice when students send me shout-outs on Twitter.

Big hug to all of my students through all the years at all the schools. Your wisdom, energy and generosity have kept me young.  xoxox