Sunday, September 21, 2014

Professor Notorious: What the Critics are Saying

Part of putting together my promotion file is assembling my student evaluations. We've actually improved the evaluations in recent years, and changed the tenure/promotion file process so that student evals are only one small part of the picture. But still, we have to include them. We are only required to include the summary sheets (e.g., the raw numbers), but we can include the actual narrative comments as well.

I read these comments as they come in, but there's something about going through six years' worth at once that gives one a bit more big-picture perspective. Sure, there are the loads of "She's great!" or "There's too much reading!" or "She made me love this subject!" or "She should make her assignments not due on the same day as my other classes' assignments." Such evaluations, like the poor, will always be with us. There are also the ones that offer concrete suggestions about how an assignment might be more helpfully structured, or who give me feedback on a new experimental assignment. And I take those into account.

But then, there are the really fun ones (and I do mean that), which I now share with you:

·      “Babbles in connection with lecture” [If only it were just in lecture.]
·      “This was a great class. Too bad it had so much religion in it.” [Well, it is a course on medieval Europe.]
·      “As always, I enjoyed your class. Teach more classes!” [Dear God, no.]
·      “It would be cool if you taught a bit more about the Knights Templar.”  [::backing out of the room slowly…::]
·      “Class was a pain and great at the same time” and “Very dedicated to getting us through the semester without losing our minds.” [Two comments from my methods class – what we refer to as “history boot camp”]
·      “Hi. You are cool.” [Thanks. Back atcha'.]
·     “The Abelard reading isn’t as interesting as Lateran IV.” [I just… What?!?]
·      “I didn’t dread coming to this class.” [I usually didn't, either. Usually.]
·      “SWED => This final is gonna blow.” [SWED = “smoke weed every day.” I had to look this up. Who says we don’t learn as much from our students as they learn from us?]
·      “Good job, tough class, great hair.” [A student who has taken my critiques of wordiness to heart.]
·      "What isn’t the Mediterranean?" [This, from a class where I apparently asked “What is the Mediterranean?” a few too many times…]

And finally, perhaps my all-time favorite evaluation comment: 

 ·      “Her passion for history is as contagious as smallpox and a lot more fun."


Susan said...

These are great. I love the idea of too much religion in a course on the Middle Ages. Not in an evaluation, but I once was asked if I were a believer, because I was teaching the Reformation. Umm, if you teach the 16th century, you teach the Reformation! (Clearly related to student who seemed surprised that Catholics were Christians.)

Belle said...

I used to get comments in World History class that there was too much to learn. Well, duh. Ooze to 1500 in 15 weeks.

Once I remembered to tell them I wasn't talking about the faiths, but the institutions, I quit getting accused of hating religion. Sigh.

Comradde PhysioProffe said...

Hilarious! Good luck on the promotion!

Dr. Virago said...

I've gotten a "too much religion" comment, too, in a seminar on medieval women writers, in which I explicitly talked early on (and over and over) about how religious institutions and practices were some of the primary ways that medieval women gained access to literacy and agency. Sigh.

My favorite ever funny comment, though, was this one from a Chaucer class: "I want to have her babies and teach them to speak Middle English!"