Friday, January 21, 2011

Nice to meet you ... I'm Dr. Black Hole

Don't know about the rest of the adjuncters out there. But much like the students, I pretty much bolt from campus as soon as I reasonably can (after I've passed out the final?)

So, when (if!) you return the next term, there usually is a pile of mail waiting in your mailbox.

After wading through the various and sundry college announcements, activity schedules, club announcements and schedules, there was a official looking manila envelope addressed to my home.

(We'll ignore why they didn't, well, mail it to my home then!)

I open it to find -- drum roll -- last term's student evaluations. The voices of many CMers echoing in my ears -- and being in close proximity of a recycle bin, I was so tempted ...

But -- forgive me, I was weak -- I looked.

Pretty much kept intact my longstanding reputation of the Savior/Anti-Christ instructor -- students either love or hate me ... not much in the middle.

Still -- one comment did jump out at me.

"I was SO excited for this class, but Dr. BH ... SUCKED THE LIFE OUT OF IT."

Have to say -- this one felt like a body blow. I was about to start a new class where participation is now REQUIRED because the crew last term seemed to have drunk themselves comatose before my class. Teaching a class in "Social Implications of Navel Gazing," I often attempted to pepper class discussion with reference to, yanno, actual current events only to be greeted by the cricket chorus.

(For living in the "Information Age," the flakey flakes do seem to expend an inordinate amount of energy to not be aware of what is going on around them nationally, regionally, locally -- beyond, of course, twitting and tweeting their flakey friend in the adjacent classroom!)

Ultimately though, I can't decide if I should be taking this as a perverse badge of honor or seriously start looking for a job with a little less opportunity for backlash, like, oh, being a sports referee.


  1. We told you not to look. You have to do what *you* can feel good about.

  2. Honest. DON'T LOOK. I don't even look at the numerical scores anymore. Once a year I take the evaluations out of my "evaluations" folder and stick them in my "annual review" folder, with my eyes shut. If there's a problem, someone will tell me. There's guaranteed to be at least one student comment that will make you wonder if you should just quit your job, and that's the one you'll obsess about, no matter how many "Professor Blackhole WALKS ON WATER! I WORSHIP Prof. BH!" comments you will also get.

    So really. DON"T LOOK.

  3. Take it from the dean, A&S, the only reason I have my staff spend 2 days stuffing envelopes with the darned evaluation forms is because I get into hot water with the next level up if I refuse.

    We never get the evaluations out and look at them unless you are suspected of stealing the silver teaspoons or being involved in some hanky-panky with sweet young things. Since we know that the evaluations will tell us that you suck, that will give us an easier way to ease you out than to have to confront you with what we think you did.

    I just got the school-wide summary evaluations from *2007*. Most of the students from then have graduated already...

    Just follow the advice from the good people here and DON'T READ THE OFFICIAL EVALUATIONS. If you really want to know what they think, invite them to join you for coffee after the final. The only ones who will come will be the worshipers or people with constructive criticism, that will ease your mind.

    Dean Suzy

  4. You're upset because you "sucked the life" out of class? That's it? Multiple comment pages told whatever higher ups looking at them that I should be fired outright and one, magical one that it was, called me an ignorant whore multiple times. That one went on to the back of the page, too.

  5. At least in literary studies, "sucking the life out of" the subject, at least from the student's perspective, usually equals asking him/her to think critically about texts that (s)he would rather just gush about, or relate (rather tangentially) to his/her own life, or perhaps emulate (usually badly) in a "creative" assignment. Actually, I'm a bit nostalgic for those responses, which at least reflect a certain enthusiasm for literature; the more common complaints these days fall along the lines of "x was boring" or "x was too hard to understand" or even just "x was too long." Of course, there are some students who enjoy reading literature, and don't complain at all, but I sort of miss the artsy-but-lazy "you ruined it for me by analyzing it" line.

  6. Point of information: black holes don't "suck," any more than any other gravity field does. What makes a black hole special is that it has no bottom, at least not in this Universe.

    As far as the "Information Age" complaint goes, this has been discussed at book length in "The Dumbest Generation," by Mark Bauerlein. He makes the case that all they're using their electronic galaxy for is shallow social interaction.

  7. I still read the comments. My favorite was Professor Snarkygirl "uses too many words when answering a question."


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