Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Teacher's an Asshole"? Yeah? Is That All You've Got?

The "solution" I have concerning abusive student evaluations is to let my students know what the worst evaluations of me were from the previous semester. This semester's winner is "Teacher's an asshole!" which won the coveted "Courage in the Age of Anonymity, Empowerment, and Entitlement" certificate and is posted on my office door - as fair warning to current and prospective students.

I also encourage students to visit if they want to know more about me, professionally and personally.

And finally I tell my students if they don't want me to be like some of their peers have so negatively described me to be then they need to quit giving me ample opportunities to be that sort of person.

Many of them have come to misunderstand assignment and course grades as being comments on their persons - their ever so delicate and unique snowflake selves - that it is many of them approach faculty evaluations, which I have long called "pay-back forms." And a long time ago I read in a sociology book that "Everyone thinks they know what education is because they all have one." So if their expectations are not met, given their collective "100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back" mentality, they want a refund; when they cannot get that, they want to complain to our "bosses" who continue to feed that mentality.

I am actually one of the few who is bothered by the negative and even hateful remarks students make on evals and most of my colleagues don't even read them.

I don't think the solution lies along gender lines. I think it is just getting rid of the evaluations or at least making students' personally accountable for them. Yeah, I know ... neither is very likely. But either is more likely than running out of students who give the opportunity to be - or even force me to be - an asshole.