Monday, May 29, 2006

the 98.4% man

Teacher ratings today. I currently stand at 98.4% approval. We get rated on a 25-point scale: five categories worth 5 points each. My point total so far is 246 out of 250, or 98.4%. (I hear Joel shouting "Grade inflation!" again.) One class gave me all 5s, or 100%, which was cool. Another-- much smaller-- class was less generous and rated me in the 90s. In fact, the student who gave me the lowest rating in that class, an 80-something, was one who had been skipping a lot. Three more classes will be rating me later this week; we'll see how it goes.

I feel fine posting these ratings because I know that all of us teachers receive similar ones. I doubt anyone in our staff gets below 90-something. The students who stick it out to the end of the semester are the ones who like the courses and/or the teachers, which definitely skews the ratings in our favor.

That's actually one reason why I value the ratings at the end of the intensive courses more: all students are obliged to attend-- it's not just the loyalists who stay to the end-- so a given teacher's evaluation scores will be a more accurate reflection of how the teacher is doing, PR-wise, during the intensive sessions than during the normal sessions.*

You'll recall that my winter intensive class was incredible: the rating I got from my class of 9 students (down from 12) was 224 out of 225 points: 99.6%. That's hard to top. I don't expect things will ever be that good again. I truly loved my students and they truly loved me-- a dynamic that's harder to arrive at than you might think.

Will I still be at 98.4% by Thursday? I suspect not, but we'll see. More grade inflation coming your way soon. Expect updates.

*Whether the scores have any meaning beyond PR is debatable. Students who love their teachers are sometimes just as deluded as students who hate their teachers (and exact revenge via the teacher evaluations). I suspect that the primary function of the evaluation sheets is to suss out whether a given teacher has any major problems, which students will write about in the comments section.

If a single student mentions a problem not noted by nineteen others, then it's safe to assume that that student is the one with the problem. However, I'd agree with my bosses that a teacher who receives a slew of similarly negative comments probably has to work on his or her teaching skills. I don't ask my colleagues what their own ratings are (though some will cheerfully volunteer them), but I seriously doubt they receive such complaints. I'm lucky to have good coworkers; I feel I learn from them.


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