Professor used to teaching to a blank screen surprised when students tell him 'I love you'

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended education in every way imaginable. While it's great that modern technology allows us to attend classes through Zoom or Google Meets, it's just not the same as in-person interaction.

It's also tough to recreate the camaraderie that can develop in a classroom.

The impenetrable distance that exists between teachers and students in the COVID-19 era was bridged recently when a group of students came together to tell their professor how much he really means to them.


Professor David Branscome at Florida State University has become accustomed to teaching to a mostly blank screen these days. Even though there are 180 people in his mythology class, only a few opt to attend the lecture with their screens and microphones turned on.

At the end of his lectures he will usually say "have a great weekend" and his students will reply with the customary, "you, too." But this time, one student replied with "I love you." To which Branscome replied, "I love you, too."

After that lecture, a group of students got together on a the texting platform GroupMe and put together a plan to bombard their professor with an "I love you" at the end of the next lecture.

A few days later, at the end of class, one by one, the students showed their love by saying, "I love you," to which Branscome replied: "I love you, too," or "I love you all."

The video of the lovely send off was captured on TikTok where it's received over 600,000 likes.

@dahrleene Reply to @anxietyape y'all we made it a daily thing now. i love this man so much 😭 he gotta be sick of us atp ##fyp ##foryou ##foryoupage ##college
♬ Put Your Records On - Ritt Momney

Darline Philius, a sophomore in the class, says that the chain was a way of bringing the class together while they're apart. "We're not able to be with each other, in person," the 20-year-old told Insider. "So this is our type of bonding."

But it was also a way to show their deep feelings for the professor. "We really do love this man," Philius said.

via Jackson Myers / Flickr

Branscome has found a positive way to see the to the recent disruption to the educational system.

"I've actually been very pleasantly surprised with the environment," he said. "In some ways, it contributes to class discussion. Every student has a front-row seat."

He also believes that the fact that the pandemic has created a unique bond between people.

"I think that this is one of the nice things about the online environment, strangely being apart brings us closer together — at least in this environment," he said.

Branscome believes that the "I love you" chain was a way for him to express his true feelings about his students.

"I do care about each and every one of them," the professor said.

The wonderful bond created between Professor Branscome and his students is a great example of how living through tough times encourages people to focus on what really matters in life. It also provides a bit of hope that, one day when this is all over, we can all say that living though the pandemic made us more gracious people.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.