I began my blog with a post entitled “Being Evaluated.” That post was about having my scholarship evaluated by experts in my field and having my teaching evaluated by my students. In this post, I’d like to update my thoughts about these forms of evaluation.

Today, I read my teaching evaluations for the year. In 2006 I taught 5 classes: Lesbian & Gay Lit, a grad course on late eighteenth-century Brit Lit, Literary Theory, Critical Approaches to Drama, and Women & Literature. At the end of the year, we select the evaluations from 4 classes to submit to the “Budget and Rating Committee” as part of our annual evaluation.

For the first time in my teaching career, I didn’t have anyone in any of my classes who just hated me and everything else about the class s/he took with me. Usually, there’s somebody who is taking a course under duress and decides to take out his or her frustration by giving me low scores. This is especially the case in the L&G Lit course — for some reason I still don’t understand, I usually have someone in that class who complains about the course content — it’s too gay! But not this time. One or two people thought the class might emphasize sex a little too much. A few of the lesbians want more women-centered texts (which is a totally legitmate complaint, I think). And one or two people want less reading, but I don’t feel like I’ve taught a good course if someone doesn’t complain about too much reading and/or writing. The theory students seemed especially appreciative that we studied theory by applying it to short stories by E. M. Forster. My Women & Lit students had useful suggestions for improving the commonplace book assignment. And my grad students seem to have learned a lot about the late eighteenth century, which I’m especially delighted to read since it was the best grad class I’ve taught so far in my career (and the third of the “long eighteenth century” that I know the least about).

So, I’m very pleased that my students seem to have thought my classes were good learning experiences for them. (more…)