Just went through the annual contortion of preparing my teaching evaluation portfolio. No one wants this, not the teacher who preps it, not the committee that reads it, not the dean who signs off on it. (Theme of evening seems to be, Too Honest For Own Good.) Only the system wants it. To the system it’s Pure Sugar.
Had this time to thread the needle — accounting (without seeming defensive) for a weaker batch of evals (don’t get me started on evals) than usual while attesting (without seeming boastful) that I am teaching (as I do think I am) at the live edge of my game.
Thought I’d paste in the last para as a sleep aid for you.
I’ve stretched myself in several ways as a teacher this past year. Posting my students’ work on the blog where I feel through live questions about writing, reading, teaching, being. Showing my own work, including drafts and failures, to my students. Sharing strong feelings with them — grief at the loss of a friend, or anger about discovering cheating, or the sheer pleasure I so often feel working with them — in a more raw and open way than I usually have. What these shifts have in common, I think, is that they rub away at the the wall between my role as a teacher and my being as a person. I’m not sure all have been successful but all have been intentional and all — even those decided in an instant — carefully considered. Nor am I sure I’m a better teacher this year than I was last year when I played it safer. I do feel I’m a truer one.
Some time I’m feeling braver I’ll write about the art of cussing in the presence of students. It’s a knife’s edge. What’s not? G’night.