The benefits of evaluations

I got my evaluations back today. These are the forms where the students have their chance to write whatever they like (or dislike) about their teachers. I was dreading this particular batch because I hadn’t felt good about this class. It always was so hard to get any discussions going in class and I was certain that they had a good deal of skepticism about me and the class itself. But to my surprise, I got great comments from the students. They found me engaging and approachable and organized. Several of them said they learned something from me.
Now I know that sounds like bragging, but actually its more like surprise. How could I be so unaware? How did I manage to read the class so wrong? This really makes me wonder, how in touch are we really with what goes on in the classroom? How could I be so wrong about myself? Is it just that I am my own worst critic, or is something else going on here? Does this lack of confidence infuse my writing to? Gosh…

Maybe I just expect too much from the classroom. I have visions of book discussions that resemble the discussions that my writing group has about books we’ve read. In these discussions we analyse the meaning of the book, the use of symbols and metaphors. We review the writing style and try to understand what we do or don’t like about it and what parts we can adapt and adopt in our own writing. We discuss at great length what the author was trying to achieve. But maybe what I have to realise is that all those years that have passed since we were in school have actually taught us something. Maybe it is totally appropriate that a bunch of middle aged writers have in depth discussions about books that I can’t get a classroom of students to have. Maybe we really have learned something over the years.

I have to remember that a lot of years have passed since I was a university student. This should give me courage to be confident in my knowledge. Sometimes that is hard to have when I feel so out of touch with the students. I don’t listen to the same music or understand their references, but then I guess that’s okay, because I’m not 23 any more, so maybe they just don’t expect that of me.

I’m feeling pretty good today about teaching and writing. Yahoo for a good evaluation.

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