This is not an academic blog...
This is not an academic blog...but
This is not an academic blog...but...academics is such a part of my life and who I am that sometimes my academic life explodes into my personal life.
The bomb went off this past Monday when faculty evaluations from last semester were released.
One of my students didn't like me.
I liked her.
She made an A in my class.
But, she still didn't like me.
Since, as I write this, it is 3 days after I read her comments about me, I don't have to tell you that her comments REALLY hurt my feelings.
Her comments were very specific and 5-6 lines long...OUCH!
Her sentences were meticulously thought out and probably revised a time or two...Some of her comments about me were absolutely true...but then there were others that I couldn't figure out. I think the not being able to figure out what she was talking about bothers me a lot more than anything else.
I'd love to be able to sit down with this student and ask her what she meant. I'm all about bettering myself.
Another thing that bothers me tremendously is that I know this student. Yeah, yeah, instructor evaluations are anonymous. Remember though, this student's comments were VERY SPECIFIC...almost as if she wanted me to know who she was. Almost as if she had been waiting all semester to tell me what she thought. Maybe she was revising and editing her comments all semester long along with the essays she revised and edited in my class.
I am enough of an academic to not tell you exactly what she said about me nor give you any specific information about this student. She will never read my blog, but I am human...and a mommy...so I would never strike back at this student or any other. I truly care about all of them...even the ones that drive me insane. My own children...the ones I gave birth to...drive me bonkers sometimes too...and I still love them. I've grown to expect aggravation from a classroom full of students on a daily basis. While they are legally adults, 18 years old and up, first and second year college students are many times still children (especially first semester, first year whippersnappers...many of them out in the great wide world for the first time - I "bless their hearts" on a daily basis just to keep from strangling them!)
I do treat them as adults as much as possible...because I teach in a community college we have a great number of students who still need a lot of guidance. We also still have, within the same classroom (I average 45 students per class in my composition classes), other students who are at the top of their game and need much less guidance. I try to give all of my students as much guidance and as much leeway as they need on an individual basis. I also encourage my students to say what they think and to challenge themselves to always be able to logically justify their positions.
I guess my evaluator student was just practicing what I had preached all semester.
It still hurt my feelings.
I will not change some of what this student commented on...
I believe and practice structure in my classroom...but I am also flexible when the need arises.
No matter who you are or what your grades were in the past, I'm going to raise the bar for you in my class. This is college after all. My job is to take each student from whichever point they are when they join my class and move them to the next level.
If we miss a week of school for reasons out of our control, I will change the lesson plan; I will retype it for the class and give each student a new copy.
I will continue to present information in my class the way that I do...with stories, examples, personal anecdotes and as much humor as possible. I am not a "just the facts" kind of gal and never will be...I cannot and actually am not willing to change my personality for this or any other student. I'm 41 years old. I am who I am. My personality and presentations have gotten me pretty far so far...so to each her own.
I am not now nor will I ever be known as the easiest teacher on my campus...I will NOT apologize for requiring that students think and actually do some work in my class.
The things she commented on that I will take to heart and try to be more aware of:
There are some students who don't want to hear my stories, nor laugh at my jokes, nor want to get to know me better, nor want me to guide them anywhere, anytime, anyplace...point taken.
For events that are within my control, I will be more strict about not changing the agenda. I can see where unnecessary wishy washyness would drive a student who thrives on structure up the wall.
I will try to remember that even though I enjoy what I do, my students are not having anywhere near as much fun as I am as they write and re-write essays.
I will try not to contradict myself...although this is the part I did not understand...she did not give specifics about this. I suspect this student did not appreciate having to revise essays when she arrived in my class a very good writer from the get-go. Just my suspicians though.
I will try to be more aware of the needs of the higher end student. It's easy to get caught up in what the majority of my students need and forget about the "gifted" ones...I have actually argued this about my own children in their schools.
I will remember that different students need different instructors; it doesn't mean that one is bad and another is good. When possible, students should be able to choose instructors whose teaching styles match their individual learning styles...even in college.
Biggest Lesson Learned:
I will not ever again read the comments page of my student faculty evaluations. I have spent three days in a funk over comments from one student out of the 300 I taught last semester.
2010 is the year of forgiveness, not the year of funk.
Please hurry Springtime :)