David Branscome, a professor at Florida State University, has been teaching a 180-person ancient mythology class via Zoom this semester.
One student said "I love you" before signing off one day, and Branscome replied: "I love you, too."
Now, a handful of Branscome's students end each virtual class by saying "I love you."
The professor told Insider the "I love you" chain "was very nice," and he really does "care about each and every one" of his students.
When David Branscome, a professor at Florida State University, ends his online classes, he'll usually say, "See you next time" or "Have a great weekend."
In his 180-person ancient mythology course, those farewells were often met with the expected "thank you" and "you, too." But a few weeks into the semester, one student opted for an "I love you" instead.
"I was surprised," Branscome told Insider. "So, I said, 'I love you, too.'"
After class, the students took to the texting platform GroupMe to plan an "I love you" chain. For their next class, students would say "I love you" instead of "thank you" when signing off.
At the end of the class a few days later, one by one, students showed their appreciation for their professor. Branscome responded to each one, "I love you, too," or "I love you all."
The professor said nothing like this has ever happened in his 13 years of teaching at Florida State University
Every now and then, students will end the semester with a round of applause, but Branscome said he's never received an "I love you."
"This was something new, and it was very nice," he told Insider.
While the first chain surprised him, it's expected now. About a dozen students will say it at the end of every class. Branscome added that another online class has even started saying it, too.
Darline Philius, a sophomore in the class, said the professor looked "taken aback" the first time he heard it.
"We're not able to be with each other, in person," the 20-year-old told Insider. "So this is our type of bonding."
Philius said that only a handful of students have their cameras on during the lecture, and that it can feel lonely with so many blank screens.
"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."
Philius said that front-row seat has helped create a stronger bond this semester, and referred to the class as a "family."
Branscome agreed, saying: "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."
Philius recorded the sweet moment and posted it on TikTok
The TikTok video garnered the attention of over 2.3 million people, and commenters loved the video and the professor's sweet reaction.
"My mom didn't sign a permission slip for this feels trip," one user wrote.
Another added: "As a teacher, I would literally cry from happiness if my kids did that."
Philius said comments like that have made her recognize how important it is to show teachers your appreciation.
"I realize how much educators are feeling during the pandemic and everything," she said.
This small moment was just one way her class wanted to say thanks.
"We really do love this man," Philius said.
Branscome said he feels the same. "I do care about each and every one of them," the professor said.
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Read the original article on Insider