The Irony and the Agony: Reading Semester Evaluations

It’s that time again.

Time to read my semester evaluations.

And this semester’s evaluations were particularly important as they are the last ones prior to my retention review this fall, so I have to admit that I’ve been waiting with some trepidation to find out the results.

I couldn't find a nervous picture of me, so I thought I'd add a photo of the Iron Man Beanie Ball that my son just got. It helps me distract me from my trepidation.

I couldn’t find a nervous picture of me, so I thought I’d add a photo of the Iron Man Beanie Ball that my son just got. His name is “Irony” — No, really, that’s what he named it.

As is typical when I receive a set of semester evaluations, I go straight to the numeric data.  Just like my 8th graders used to–look for the grade.  Grade mongers habits die hard.  And numerically, aside from a small blip on the screen (1 score of 3 on a 6-point scale in terms of instructor effectiveness with the rest being overwhelmingly 5’s & 6’s), the numbers looked good.

Yes, this is my actual thumb

Yes, this is my actual thumb

Then, I moved to the comments.  Some of them were incredibly touching and way more complimentary than I would ever be towards myself. Here are a few of my favorites:

“She is the best teacher I’ve ever had….I wish I could take her for every class in the program.  If you want to improve education, hire more Dr. Hsiehs”

“I have never felt so confident in myself until this class. I’m used to hearing everything I’m doing wrong and what I need to work on.  You told me what to work on and when I did, you praised me for it.  I honestly cried.  I rarely show emotion so for me to cry because I was happy was huge!”

“She is so dedicated to making sure we are prepared to be the best teachers we can be. Best professor I’ve ever had”

“Dr. Hsieh’s attitude and passion for both the subject matter and for us as students is incredibly encouraging.  I want to do well not only for myself and my future students, but for her as well.  She shows so much confidence and dedication that I feel more prepared and competent.  All of the work is directly usable and rooted in practical applicability”

Aw, shucks.

And while it wasn’t all positive, with some students discussing the overwhelming nature of discussion board posts (which was what I had anticipated), many also noted the importance of the posts for their learning.  A couple also highlighted pacing and one noted a greater need for behavior management strategies (i.e. addressing problematic behavior) and differentiation strategies (which I also want to focus on more next semester given student performance on various assessment measures). Overall, I felt their feedback and critique was fair and very much aligned with my own reflective self-evaluation and that made me feel happy.

The happiness is written all over this piece of paper

The happiness is written all over this paper

What made me happiest about reading through this set of evaluations, however, was that, for once, I actually didn’t focus disproportionately on the negative (okay, okay, I did focus on that 3 and 4 that I got for 5-10 minutes, but before I would have focused on it for days and it would have been the subject of this entire blog post) and I let myself be moved by the difference that I was able to make for most of these awesome future teachers.  I actually acknowledged that while I may not be the right professor for EVERY SINGLE student, almost every one gained a lot from the course that they can take into their future classrooms and for the few students that may not have, I am only 1/4 of their credential program.

So, perhaps the true irony (aside from the one pictured above) is that these evaluations were not particularly agony inducing.  They were, as they should be, tools to help me engage in reflective practice.  And that is a HUGE step forward for me on this journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *