Three Years Later

I’ve taught at the same university over the past three years. During that time I had to struggle to improve my student evaluations. That is, the students gave me low scores. Over the last year, I changed my classroom procedures to improve my evaluations. Did that have an effect? Yes, it did. My evaluations finally showed improvement over the two most recent semesters. Congrats to me! Can I definitively say what I did to improve my evaluations? Was there a formula? Was there one special method? To these questions I can only answer: “no”. Personally, I’d like to see my evaluations rise higher and faster next semester. Yet I am still at a loss for what truly constitutes a job good enough to garner higher evaluations. Everyone has an opinion on this matter. The worst part about it is that some of those people are my bosses. The best part about it is that although I cannot definitively point to something that helped me yield more positive feedback I know one thing for sure — never give up and keep trying new things. This reminds me of the Winston Churchill quote I came across recently: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”. Therefore, I will enter the next semester with lots of enthusiasm! Congrats to me for sticking it out this long! Cheers!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Murray Lindsay says:

    You must have an idea on how they got better: Pacing, monitoring, making sure everyone contributes in class, having each part of the lesson connect. What level are the students that give you lower grades?
    Everyone has a different style but I think generally our faculty is one of the strongest I have ever worked with.

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    1. lacalaw2 says:

      I’ll have to say that my students have remarked that I am fair and try to get everyone to contribute. Connecting the lesson? With Firsthand, I don’t try to connect the activities. I try to present the grammar point and get everyone to practice it in class. I worked pretty hard last semester and I was really surprised by the results of my evaluations. For instance, I built a pretty good rapport with one class and they slammed me with the lowest score. Then there was another class that was my “worst” in terms of overall ability. Two students in a class of 15 students could not read at all! I was also frustrated because many of them were often absent (average attendance: 9 or 10) — some were athletes. I resorted to ordering pizza and having a party at the end of the semester (at the end of a class). Those students gave me the highest review (90%). I wonder if I have to buy all of my classes pizza next semester (kidding). Personally, I’m comparing my Korean language classes with the English classes I teach. They are vastly different. In one, the grammar is presented and we read dialogues that employ that grammar. In the other, we jump from topic to topic and activity to activity. I try to complete the activities. The theme is already chosen so I don’t see much need for designing an entirely different lesson. Lastly, I watched what another teacher did in his class and didn’t see much difference between what I do in my class. I was told that he was a “better” teacher. I did see some differences and made adjustments accordingly, but other than that I am at a loss for what the “best practices” really are. Thanks for your reply, Murray. Share your advice and I’ll use it.

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