professornana (professornana) wrote,

Trying to digest

No, not the toast I had for breakfast. I am still trying to digest a comment from the latest round of student evaluations. There were a handful of lovely comments about the class. But then there was this ONE, the one negative among the positives, that makes me question my teaching. I know I should not let these things get to me, but they do. You see, I failed someone. Not literally. I failed her or him as a teacher. Somehow I did not provide what this person needed to be successful. And that is what haunts me. And what makes me more determined to make adjustments in the course and how I teach it.

I have been teaching since 1976. I would like to think that I have been getting better at it incrementally each year. But I know that I still fail to reach them all. Like most educators, I take this personally. So, I will gnaw on this comment obsessively over the next few weeks as I put together the materials for the fall course. I will ask myself what I can do to ensure I reach them all, that I provide what each student needs. I will put together the course materials and hope that I have covered all the bases, answered all the questions, created the best experiences I can.

But then the evaluations will come, and I will go back to the drawing board. Here is anther case of how some would use numbers to define who I am. My doctor does this: blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. My university does it: publications, presentations, grants. I am more than those numbers. Thank goodness that others see me as more. Scout sees me as the Pez dispenser for his treats and a lap for cuddling. My BH sees me as a friend, wife, confidante. My friends see me as the crazy person I am. That is what I will turn to after I am done obsessing.


A couple of side notes here:

1. For the first time, we will do evaluations for the summer sessions. I already am bracing for those. Taking courses in a short time frame is challenging. Many students will voice concerns over the amount of work. I do not cut anything in terms of reading and other requirements from the course because it is summer. This means LOTS of work in very little time. I suspect it will also mean lower course evaluations.

2. Generally, the lower scores some from students who are stumbling a bit in the course they are taking. I have been doing my own number crunching. Several semesters ago I had one section with 1 failing grade and 3 Cs. most grad students consider a B a bad grade, so you can imagine how they view a C. The scores in that session were considerably lower than the other sections where the final grades were higher. So, there is a correlation. Ditto the comments. More negative comments in the section with the lower grades.
Tags: numbers
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