I’m starting this blog while I’m on sabbatical, which means that I’m not teaching and doing very little service; instead, I’m researching and writing my new project. This quarter has also been a time to reflect on my professional goals and future teaching practices and rejuvenate myself so that I can reconnect with my passion for writing and teaching. I hope this blog gives me a space in which to think through some of this reflection and reconnection.

As a professor, I am frequently evaluated. My students evaluate me at the end of each quarter, and a committee of my colleagues evaluates my scholarship, teaching, and service annually. While my evaluations tend to be good in both categories, these processes can’t help but be fraught with a range of emotions. Student evaluations are anonymous and withheld from me until I’ve turned in final grades. This anonymity makes the one or two less positive evaluations (and there are almost always one or two students who hate a class or who were bored by the readings or hold you responsible for another student’s body odor or whatever) stand out all the more. As my colleagues and I often discuss, these one or two negative comments can overwhelm 30 positive reviews. We can’t help but agonize over which one hates “us” (since we are the class) or how we could have made the readings come alive more or which one smells.

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