Saturday, January 07, 2006

Because You Said So

It's so nifty to see people who have contacted me before mixing with those who have been lurking about. I know that many blogs have created a sort of virtual community within comment sections, and I hope that happens here, as long as somebody occasionally brings doughnuts. No matter whether you can afford to donate or no (I can't afford to donate to MYSELF), I'm glad all of you are here, and possibly plotting against me.

Also, who in their right minds WANTS to raise a writer? Please, please, spare yourselves the constant mental breakdown that is my parents' lives, and rear accountants. The world doesn't need one more poetry slam.

In other news, when did I become an artist in the Southwest?

Now, to answer some questions and comments:

1) I've not yet seen the new Pride and Prejudice, but when I do, I'll be sure to let everyone know exactly how much it sucks.

2) As much of my day is tied up in examinig zits, fretting, and eating Wheat Thins, I really don't read other people's blogs, but I do check Drudge a few times a day and heartily recommend reality blurred, the much-celebrated blog of Friendboy Andy. He's WAY more famous (and competent) than I am. You guys should go see it. He actually, like, spells things properly.

3) I never said Will Smith is funnier than Jon Stewart. I just said that in the unlikely event Stewart whizzes it, we should have Will in the wings. Preferably in the neon hi-tops and ready to bust out "Parents Just Don't Understand."

4) College students, do be honest on those reviews, but remember, in most places (I KNOW in mine) people in high places do indeed look at them, and can have some effect on whether or not the professor gets tenure or another job.

As my entire Master's education consisted of sitting in a very small room with five other people who would read something I'd been working on for six months and then say things like "You might want to try not writing while stoned," I'm quite used to constructive criticism; for example, if several people mention that a course moved too fast, I'll slow it down next time.

Then again, I beg and plead my students (I almost mistyped that as "bed and please", which... another thing ENTIRELY) to come talk to me if they have problems or complaints, because by the time the evals come in, the course is done and it's too late to explain things or make any changes. This is what pissed me off with the kid who wrote something like "I learned nothing and she wasted time with her stories" because... if you have problems with the way the material is presented, SAY SO. I even put it in the syllabus. For The Rack is powerful, but does not read minds.

The Ohligarch made an interesting point when he mentioned that sometimes the best rapports produce the worst reviews, for indeed, the most sigh-filled comments came from a rambunctious class in which we had an absolute blast and discussions were high-chemistry and in general wonderful. And I was shocked that some of the best reviews came from a very quiet class I had long despaired over as a complete disaster. Moral of the story... Life: Go fig.

In any case, if you feel like your prof really, truly sucks, rip away, if only for venting purposes. But be specific about WHY, and also remember that kind words do go a long way. I got one comment that said "Pay Her More!" and I'm totally sleeping with it under my pillow. All I'm asking is for you to not blame well-earned poor grades on the prof, because there is nothing like hearing "I didn't learn anything and it's your fault" when the student appeared in class exactly four times. (Of course this does not apply to you personally, Rosella the Reader of Stillwater, Oklahoma! You, clearly, are an intelligent young woman of fine literary tastes.)

Russell the Reader mentioned that he kept a list in the back of his notebook of things to mention on the eval, which absolutely terrified me, and suggested that I confiscate such things at evaluation time to ease the deep, deep fear. The man kept a LIST, people! Notebooks? Please-- next time I'm confiscating any and all surfaces in which students may have tracked evidence of how much I suck, including their own arms.

5) France also sucks.


ArmyWife said...

Okay, as a current college student I have to be fair and point out that many times I have politely asked a teacher to do more. I go to school online and there are teachers who don't even bother to show up, don't lead discussions and can't be bothered to grade assignments. I actually had to beg for notes in my last math class. The teacher hadn't done them because she didn't feel anyone would actually read them. As a second point, I know that I don't want any sort of implied criticism on my part to affect my grade. Let's face it, teachers are supposed to be aboveboard, honest, and fair but not all of them are. I don't want to fail a class because I irritated the teacher. Those anonymous evaluations are a lifesaver for those of us who suffered through a horrible class with a bad teacher.

MB said...

Ahhhhhhhhhh, emphasis on the "bad," not merely the "incompetent." And if you do need more, that will only reflect well on your effort. If you need to beg for notes... somebody's not doing her job, and it's NOT YOU. I know some students might shy away from criticism because they fear it will affect grades, which is why I also tell them that they may leave anonymous notes or emails if they wish. But I also think that you should own your opinions, so although the option is available, I don't emphasize it.

I hope you were blessed with at least a few good profs!

Russell the Reader said...

My apologies for inflicting you with my notebook of terror. That fate was reserved for specific courses whose instructors lectured to the water stain on the third ceiling tile from the back, or in a required department-wide course told my masters cohort, "You'll have to help me out here, I'm not even sure what you people do." Were I to take a class from you, I'm sure the back of the notebook would be used for its intended class-time purpose - doodling. Now being a grad student myself, I've also experienced the wrath of the student who never even came to class in the first place, yet magically formed an opionion regarding the same. You're brave for even teaching!

Lisa the reader said...

I've been reading your blog for so long that I don't even remember how I found it. Anyway, I'm a college student, and I wish my professors were half as cool as you seem to be. But I've never been terribly mean on SEOIs (student evaluation of instructor), even with the profs that I didn't like. I figure, at that point, I'm more focused on finishing the course and passing the final, rather than exacting some wrathful vengeance on a professor that caused me a few late nights of misery. And, most of them are really nice people, deep down inside.

But really, what's the most fear-inducing thing that you could get on a SEOI?

racheal said...

Hey MB,

I am sorry for your loss yesterday. They gave it their best shot. At least they now have a playoff game under their belts for the first time in a while...maybe that will inspire them for next year.

I, however, am celebrating because woo hoo -- the Panthers totally rocked!!! Maybe you can root for us now...we will probably need the extra support this week in Chicago.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to brighten so many readers' days. I love reading your columns and blogs. I have to commend you on being a loyal Cinci fan. I'm sure there will be plenty of bandwagon jumpers in the near future. I can only pray that the addition of a new coach can help my team (Saints) the way Marvin Lewis has helped yours, though I didn't think Jim Haslett did so bad anyway. Keep up the great work!

Dan the Reader said...

Now, about that bed and please....

Michelle Miles said...

I kinda of liked bed and please... but ya know, that's just me. I love your blog!

bomber95 said...

fans from Cincy. I am a St.X grad and my wife was in your hs class at M.O.M.. Wanted to let you know that we really enjoy your blog and especially because I am an ultra-conservative person and my wife's thinking is in line with your own (I am much farther to the right).

We also love your world view based on getting kicked around for basically trying to be a good person and help others, but as we have also found people (the French included) largely suck. After a while the students (customers in our case) make you realize that you can only help the ones that want it, you can not make a dumbass want to learn. So spend time worrying about the ones who do care and who probably did not leave nasty teacher reviews that appear to be from a second grader and let the others fall where they will. Keep up the great work.
God Bless
P.S. the story on the teacher convention was histarical except that libralism has infected the education system to a point of complete malfunction, so maybe not so funny. I am leaning toward homeschooling at this point because I am really sick of the propaganda that even the private schools teach. I quit UC (sUCk) because I had teachers who were so wrapped up in their warped idea of education that I could feel my brain shrinking everytime I had to complete one of their socialist propaganda assignments.

MB said...

Russell-- Don't worry about it, kiddo. As long as your notebook for my class didn't say things like "must kill moron standing in front of room...." I'm sure we'd be OK.

Lisa-- The worst thing that could be written is the one thing that would get me fired. Whatever that is.

bomber95-- I'm assuming from your user name that you went to St. X, in which case, many congratulations on your state championship, and even larger congrats on fleeing sUCs. When I was at MMH, parents told me that if I were bad, I would have to go to college there.

Any and all football fans-- You, too, shall experience this exquisite heartache. Thanks for all the good wishes. And many congratulations to Pittsburgh. Wow, you beat our team after breaking our quarterback in half after one throw! You should be incredibly proud.

Janet The Reader said...

Dan the reader made me laugh.
That is all.

robthrobs said...

so i have the unmitigated gall to brag that i have received no less that FOUR personal addressed-to-me-and-only-me emails from the goddess herself! she has offered (unsolicited) advice on my love life! she has tendered birthday greetings! she has even admitted that in her heart of hearts, she knows that the forty-niners are the only football team anyone in her right mind would support! HAH! top THAT, peon acolytes! mary beth has even agreed to be my platonic lover! WOO plus HOO equals WOOHOO!
rob in california (THE acknowledged home state of all superior athletic teams, from college to professional in pretty much every aspect except for hockey, which is not really a sport as far as we californians can tell, the mighty ducks none-the-less)

Gunzz said...

Mary Beth rules. If I hear any student saying anything bad about her, I'll force them to go on Bill O'Reilly's show and claim to be a liberal.

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MissDirected said...

I can happily say I always gave my professors detailed reviews - whether good or bad. My mother was a teacher before she had me, and she hated being evaluated. I learned to always cite examples so the prof would know exactly where I was coming from. I rule.

Jill said...

When I was in college, I had the most horrible professor. Not only could he not teach, but a few of us got automatic F's for "owning our opinions" as you had mentioned (even though our averages were much better). Yep, that's right. He failed a group of us for asking him to convey the material differently (as in some way we could actually understand it!). We all tried to fight it, but the university didn't follow through. Also, all our evalutions didn't make a difference either. He is still teaching and is notorious throughout the department for being terrible. So I said all that to say this: you probably don't have much to worry about. There is no way you could be as bad as this guy, and he still has a job. Best of luck!

MB said...

Thanks, Jill, and a pox on that prof's pointy little head. I'm so sorry that you ran up against that, but you and your classmates did the right thing. As long as mine don't brandish weapons, they shall F not :)

MB said...

bomber 95: You and your lovely wife might enjoy the following. UC is proudly represented:

Kalquessa said...

My favorite from the pack of evals that my husband (a TA at the university where he is studying for his Ph.D) brought back from this past quarter's undergrad math students:

"He is so magical! Like a magical wizard!"

And! Under the section where the student is asked to suggest possible changes:

"Magical enough the way he is!"

This student will forever have a place in my pantheon of Awesome People, and that's not even because she brought us real Russian vodka when she came back from visiting her parents in the Motherland.

dondiaz said...

To 1)- how can you not like "P&P"?With Keira Knightley in it?(Mmmh.Keira Knightley).(For bonus points name two movies where Donald Sutherland showed butt).
To 2)- It's been said that the only thing more boring than fishing is to watch someone fish. It certainly is true then the only thing worse than Reality TV is blogging (and reading) about it.

chuko said...

Some evals my physics lab students gave me many years ago:

He knows a lot of physics; you can hear him talking all the way down the hall.

He teaches us physics when he isn't busy talking to girls.

And, in response to the question, "What is the best aspect/characteristic of this course or instructor?":
His ass.

MB said...

Awesome, chuko. I think I'll file that next to the one I got that said "She dressed like a sexy businesswoman which made class interesting", which I read as, "She is SO... the only woman I see all day."

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