Course Evaluations

Classroom exchange:

Me: “OK, we’re doing course evals for the first part of class today. Put down your answers to the questions, tell me what you thought about the class, what was useful about it, what wasn’t, what could be improved, what you thought about my teaching, what could be improved,” et cetera.

Particularly smart student: “Do our answers affect you?”

Me: “Sure. And I don’t see them until after final grades are in.”


Particularly smart student, holding back a grin, in that kind of I-dare-you half-ironic tone: “So what are we doing for the rest of class today?”

Me, airily: “I’m giving away free money. And beer.” Big smile.

Course Evaluations

7 thoughts on “Course Evaluations

  • May 12, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    I brought in a box of 50 Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins (cuz I miss Massachusetts very much) and then read the statement about how it is the students’ responsibility to report any attempts to influence their remarks to the department chair. Munchkins ain’t money or beer, which is surely why I’ve heard nothing since.

  • May 12, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    I could have sworn I posted to this last night. It went along the lines of “You didunt!”

  • May 13, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    Well, I was being a smartass in response to my student’s being a smartass, one-upping the semi-snarky transactional approach to education implied by his tone and question. And they laughed, which was good.

    One thing I haven’t said explicitly to them is that Tuesday is the last day of my last semester teaching at UMass, which has given me a bit of a cavalier attitude that I’m doing my best to resist — but that many of them also seem to respond quite well to.

    I’m reminded of my old Sergeant Major, a man who was in many ways a horrifyingly monstrous bastard, but also a man who could get soldiers to do absolutely anything he asked, in a way that others couldn’t. (As a battalion CSM, he regularly bossed around the mild-mannered division CSM.) His advice on leadership was this: “They’ll follow the ones they don’t have to like.”

    Of course, that’s an almost cartoonish representation of one approach to leading/teaching — but I’ve seen some new teachers who unconsciously made it clear to their classes that they very much wanted to be liked as teachers, and it kind of blew up in their faces. It’s weird, because teaching for me is such an emotionally satisfying thing — it’s the most rewarding gig I’ve ever had, and a crap day in the classroom is still way better than a great day at the office, and that one search committee at MLA (it’s taking an immense act of will here to restrain myself from linking to their program’s site) who mocked me for saying so can go fuck themselves — but it’s only satisfying in doing it for its own sake, in feeling like I’m doing it well, rather than doing it to satisfy some need. Does that make sense?

  • May 14, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    Totally. And I think I’ve had a taste of that teacher-wanting-to-be-liked business and having it backfire on me. It was 10x worse because given my personality, I didn’t expect that to happen to me as a teacher. It’s just one fun experience after another!

  • May 14, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    But also — I’m with you on the crappiest day in the classroom beats the best day in the office. I had almost twenty years in a variety of offices, too, so I think I’m qualified to opine for myself.

  • May 25, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    I hope the quality of reviews you get in this setting beats the ones I see on sites like While the concept of that type of site is sound, the actual content is marginal at best.

  • May 26, 2006 at 7:45 am

    I dunno, my ratings and comments seem to be pretty much in line with the way I see my teaching. My students work hard; I work hard with them.

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