The semester has come to an end, and I have conducted the last lab for CS1102C, for which I was the TA.
This group was truly an amazing one. The skill level is also very widely spread. Throughout this stint of being with them, I realise that I had so much to learn from them, as much as I'm trying to teach them something that will benefit them in the future.
To be fair, programming is not for everyone. Some people get it, some people just don't. You can pass the exam with a few hiccups, but if it's not your thing, you'll just not excel. So that's the rule of thumb.
But I was forced to eat my words.... As I was marking the final sit in lab of my students, I couldn't help but notice that 10 of them passed all test cases, out of 22. That's near impossible. It doesn't happen in programming. But it did for my lab. One of them even include in his comment a thank you note for patiently explaining the question and concept so as to help him getting it all correct.
I can see their constant improvement throughout this semester. They had 4 sit in labs, and sit in labs are like exam. It's open booked, but they have a very unforgiving time limit (unforgiving that is, to most of them, all but the very good 1 or 2). They are not allowed to communicate, access the internet, and even the editing has to be done in a very limiting UNIX environment (limiting that is, to people who are not used to UNIX command line, and are so spoiled by Microsoft's explorer GUI). But the average class result has been increasing steadily, at a higher than normal pace, that I am almost certain they are doing much better than their friends in the other labs.
I'm so glad that they actually appreciate my teaching, that they were actually happy about being able to finally write a fully working program that meets all the criteria of the question.
Ah, teaching is so fun, I am beginning to love it once again. And to think that I was all jittery and wondering if I got myself up in hot soup, putting myself somewhere I don't belong, setting myself up for trouble, when I first entered the lab to conduct my first lab.
I am so thankful to God for this opportunity, so thankful that I didn't even need as much as an interview, and I got this wonderful job. God has his ways... And it was only last Monday that I realise the rest of the labTA needed to pass an interview before they were accepted into the job.
Oh, and to top it all up, the CS1102 prof gave me a sling bag, one from the regional programming competition held here in NUS. I always wanted to get another sling bag for me to carry to class (the orange NUS one is getting old, and the sling is coming off soon. And he suddenly offered just like that, so convenient, complete with a passport carrying case too :-)
Hehe, I'm so going to re apply next year... those of you taking CS1102C next year, I look forward to enjoying a wonderful time of learning again!