Students Surprise Professor with a Virtual Thank You

This year has been challenging for all – and for the students and educators maneuvering the new world of remote learning, it’s no different. But, these obstacles have brought us together and allowed many students to find a new level of appreciation for their instructors. 

And due to a trend on TikTok, a group of students were inspired to plan a special surprise to express their gratitude for their Communication Research Methods instructor, Jeff Child, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Communication and Information.

Three Kent State students – Quintin Cooks, Emma O’Keefe and Isabella (Bella) Palowitz – coordinated a synchronous “Thank You” to Child. The idea stemmed from Cooks, who saw a TikTok video where students thanked their teachers over Zoom by holding up signs with messages of appreciation. He then communicated with his peers, O’Keefe and Palowitz, and the rest of the 30-person class via their class GroupMe group message and email to plan something similar for Child. 

The students started class with all of their cameras off, something very unusual for the tight-knit class. They then each flipped on their cameras holding “thank you” signs as a few students recorded the gesture to make a TikTok video. 

“I decided to make the video because Dr. Child truly worked so hard all semester to make sure we learned in spite of the crazy situation we are all living through with COVID,” O’Keefe said. He was so understanding and still made class fun even though we couldn't be together physically, which made me excited to come to class.” 


Videos courtesy of Quintin Cooks, Emma O’Keefe and Isabella (Bella) Palowitz.

Child said he was completely surprised by his class thoughtful effort. 

“I was just going to proceed with the final exam review with all the cameras off and try to be as supportive of them as I could be. Then, they all flipped them on and it made me tear up. I felt incredibly seen by the students. The best part of the whole experience was seeing that they know I support and care about them and want to be a part of their successful educational and career journey.” 

Child went to great lengths to ensure the remote learning environment was the best it could be for his students. He decided to teach his Communication Research Methods course in synchronous remote sessions twice a week with students keeping cameras on to create as engaged of a virtual class environment as possible. 

He said that he knew the fall semester was going to be challenging for his students, so he wanted to be as accommodating as possible. 

“The biggest thing I tried to do with the students was be flexible and give them as much support as I could. I also wanted to hear these students' voices about communication and research twice a week, like I would if the class were face-to-face. More importantly, I know that a critical part of the learning process is them hearing one another's reflections on the materials and making connections with their peers about the issues discussed.” 

And his hard work was clearly appreciated by his students. 

Cooks said he wanted to create a TikTok, “to let the world know about the great professors out there like Dr. Child! I’m so glad I got to post it too because I think a lot of people got to see how amazing our professor is.”

Dr. Child’s efforts were not out of the ordinary. Nearly 1,000 Kent State faculty members completed a variety of workshops and webinars to help them learn more about the art of teaching remotely and how best to engage their students online.

Cooks, O’Keefe and Palowitz succeeded in their efforts of letting the world know how much they appreciate Child and all of his efforts this semester. The TikTok videos have over 3,700 views and have demonstrated that despite the challenges of 2020, there are still ways to come together.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 2:52pm
UPDATED: Monday, December 21, 2020 - 6:55pm
Natalie Steenbock