Evaluations are scarry. Well...at least they can be. Two weeks ago, Dr. Johnson sat in on my 11:30 class. Rare are the times when I'm nervous. But in the days leading up to the evaluation, I was jittery about Dr. Johnson's impressions, I was apprehensive about teaching material, and I was unsure about how my class would respond. My fears proved unfounded. In preparation for the work we'd be doing next semester (it's a 2 semester English course), I taught Aristotle' logic. The material went over well, the students were engaging, and Dr. Johnson enjoyed the period.
A few days later, she and I met to discuss her notes. She told me again how much she enjoyed the class and how she found it informative and interesting. She pointed out that I, at times, talked a little too fast, making it difficult to understand me. Evaluators have brought up my wordspeed before. I have a tendency to speak too rapidly, but I like that Dr. Johnson pointed out that my chatter corresponded with my excitement over the material, as opposed to a pure lack of speaking discipline.
Towards the end of our conversation, she said the words that mean so much to me: you're a good teacher. I remember the first time I heard it. At the end of the '06 fall semester, Dr. Jackson said it to me over the phone after reading the final essays from my developmental writing students. Some words make us glow. I like hearing students tell me they enjoy the class or that I teach well, but they're more likely to have a limited scope upon which to base their evaluations. Hearing colleagues say it warms me.
Evaluations have a nerve-racking quality to them; the sheer idea that someone is watching--judging you while you work makes you a little more self-conscious. I don't care if you're chopping wood, cleaning toilets, or teaching English classes, having someone loom over you and evaluate the quality and methods of your work has an NFL Combine feel to it (That's when college football players who are about to be drafted strip down to their underwear so that coaches, scouts, and team doctors can measure and poke virtually every inch of their bodies) Anyway, I'm glad this semester's eval went well. They usually do. I know that, most of the time, I do a good job. Of course, being good is not the same as being good enough.