Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Student Evaluations--the Dichotomy

I had my conference with the Dean yesterday. He's a great guy, relaxed, so that makes the nervous adjunct who just came out of the rain and is sitting in his office, relaxed. Our college evaluates adjuncts every six semesters, although except for meeting some internal administrative criteria, I can't figure out why: I receive no pay raise for a good evaluation, nor is my job made more secure (painfully illustrated this semester when our college's goal--as delivered to them by the financial office--was to cut 1/6th of our classes, and most of the adjuncts lost one of the two classes they were teaching).

But here it is, delivered out of the mouth of babes, as written by two of my students:
A lot of the instructions and materials are scattered and disorganized. There are so many pieces of information for any task that is is often stressful to know what's expected. Aside from that, she is very helpful, kind and caring as a teacher and as a person.
Not only does Professor Eastmond do her duty to make sure everyone understands and completes the basic knowledge and meets minimal standards, she goes far out of her way to guide those who wish for it even further, beyond the constraints of the class.
The first was written (I'm pretty sure) by a nice kid--I like him--who comes late to class. Every class, every time. For yesterday's class, where they were writing an in-class essay, he was 30 minutes late, cutting his writing time short by a third. He can't find things in his binder, and an expedition to clean out his backpack could receive national funding.

A Typical Experience: He sat down yesterday, pulled out a piece of paper and then looked around. He raised his hand and asked if we were supposed to use a Blue Book? I nodded, and then he began searching for that in his backpack, and not finding it, kind of looked back at me quizzically. K., who was watching the whole thing, reached into his well-organized backpack, and donated one to The Cause.

The only reason I think the comment above is from him, is because not only do I pass out a detailed Course Calendar, listing and showing nearly everything that is expected, I also provide a (detailed) handout for each of our five essays. And for those techno-students, we also have a blog, where I update any small changes to these documents. One day the above student complained to me that it was confusing to have to look everywhere to get information, this after he missed the news about some required reading regarding our novel, which was on the essay handout.

He's one of my favorites, though. I wish him well in his next class, where most likely, he won't get a woman who's raised four teenagers, and has the heart of a grandmother.


CSL said...

Love it! Ah, the joys of teaching! I remember one of my first parent teacher conferences where a mother brought in a math worksheet where I had inadvertently marked one computation correct, when indeed it was incorrect. She pleaded with me to tell her child that I had made an error and that 4 plus 2 did not equal 7. I realized then the power of a teacher over the mind of a young child. I think you are a fabulous teacher and I hope the Dean can see that as well.

Juliann said...

Sounds like our parent feedback surveys - you can generally figure out which parent is unhappy from the comments. The parents who like our program usually put their name in the Name Optional box :)

Anonymous said...

I paid my way through college by working as a nanny. I had to get the kids to school before I could get to my first class. One semester I had a class that started at 9:00, but I could not, under any circumstances, get there before 9:15. I spoke to the professor about it and he was OK with it. I studied really hard in that class, and I made sure I had someone to talk to about announcements I had missed. I am very organized student, but I felt frazzled by that class all semester. Walking in late and missing the first few minutes was really hard. This person is lucky to have some many ways to get the information and help he needs from you. I think you are right...the next professor might not be as sympathetic.