Confession: I just read my course evaluations for the Fall semester last night. I’ve had them since January. I can’t completely explain why. It’s probably actually just cowardice. I looked at the top sheet and saw that someone had given me the most negative possible score in every possible category and knew I just couldn’t handle reading any further on that particular day, even though the rest of the scores were good. So I didn’t and I haven’t since. I just haven’t been in that head space where I could take hearing someone describe how awful I am in the past three months, even amidst potentially glowing reviews. But yesterday, I started thinking about putting together a teaching dossier for award and job purposes, and I finally took out those evals, knowing I would probably have to use them. And you know what? That person who checked all the left-hand boxes? He/she wrote very nice things in the written comments. To which I have this to say:
This was one of those classic “did not read the directions” sort of things, and that’s frustrating. Now, instead of trying to explain a bad eval, I just have to say, “well see, my students are so engaged in this course that one of them couldn’t be arsed to actually read this form and fill it out correctly.” That’s probably an overreaction. A big one. I probably take these things way too seriously, but I doubt I’m the only one.
So students, in these final days of course evaluating: read the damn form.
Also, there’s probably a way in which I could totally turn this into a lesson about having the courage to be open to criticism, even really unpleasant criticism and finding out that it’s often not as painful as you suspect (sometimes it’s actually praise!), but I don’t wanna.