College students are saying 'I love you' during Zoom lectures to show appreciation for their professor who has been teaching to a blank screen

Darline Philius and a group of her classmates started an "I Love You" chain at the end of their old mythology class. @ Dahrleene / TikTok
David Branscome, a professor at Florida State University, taught a 180-person class on ancient mythology through Zoom this semester.
One student said, "I love you" before signing out one day, and Branscome replied, "I love you too."
Now a handful of Branscome students end each virtual class with the words "I love you".
The professor told Insider that the "I love you" necklace is very nice and that he really cares about every single one of his students.
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When David Branscome, a professor at Florida State University, finishes his online class, he usually says, "See you next time" or "Have a nice weekend."
In his 180-person course on ancient mythology, these farewells were often answered with the expected "thank you" and "you too". But a few weeks after the semester started, one student chose an "I love you" instead.
"I was surprised," Branscome told Insider. "So I said, 'I love you too.'"
After class, the students went to the GroupMe text messaging platform to plan an "I love you" chain. For their next grade, students said "I love you" instead of "Thank you" when they checked out.
At the end of the lesson a few days later, the students one by one showed their appreciation for their professor. Branscome replied to each: "I love you too" or "I love you all".
@ Dahrleene
not this video that makes me tear apart? I'm not a weak bitch ## fyp ## foryou ## foryoupage ## college ## healthy
♬ Steven Universe - L.Dre
The professor said nothing like this had ever happened in his 13 years of teaching at Florida State University
Every now and then the students end the semester with applause, but Branscome said he never received an "I love you".
"That was something new and it was very nice," he told Insider.
While the first chain surprised him, it is now expected. About a dozen students will say so at the end of each class. Branscome added that even another online class has started saying so.
Darline Philius, a sophomore in the class, said the professor looked "surprised" when he first heard it.
"We can't be in person," the 20-year-old told Insider. "So that's our way of bonding."
Philius said that only a handful of students turned on their cameras during the lecture and that with so many blank screens it can feel lonely.
While many teachers across the country struggle with virtual learning and low online participation, Branscome said the virtual platform helped make conversation easier.
"I was really very pleasantly surprised by the environment," he said. "In a way, it adds to the discussion in class. Each student has a seat in the front row."
Philius said the front row seat helped build a stronger bond this semester, and referred to the class as "family."
Branscome agreed, saying, "I think this is one of the nice things about the online environment. Oddly enough, the breakup brings us closer together - at least in that environment."
Philius recorded the sweet moment and posted it on TikTok
@ Dahrleene
Reply to @anxietyape. We have made it a daily thing now. I love this man so much He must be sick of us in college
♬ Put your files on - Ride Momney
The TikTok video caught the attention of over 2.3 million people, and the commentators loved the video and the professor's sweet reaction.
"My mother did not sign a permit for this trip," wrote one user.
Another added: "As a teacher, I would literally cry with happiness if my children did this."
Philius said such comments made them realize the importance of showing your appreciation for teachers.
"I realize how much educators are feeling during the pandemic and all," she said.
That little moment was just one way her class wanted to say thank you.
"We really love this man," said Philius.
Branscome said he felt the same way. "I take care of each and every one of them," said the professor.
If you're a teacher, student, or parent wanting to share your story about what it's like to go back to school now, contact mhumphries@insider.com.
Continue reading:
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Teachers share TikTok videos showing how much energy and patience it takes to keep students occupied during the virtual class
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