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Teacher Evaluations: Constructive or Cruel?

Kellyn Wilde, Reporter

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As students, we have opinions on everything. Whether it be complaining about uniforms or simply reviewing events happening on campus, we love to let everyone know what we are thinking. But there is one particularly important student opinion that helps make changes to our education experience: our opinion on teachers.

Teacher evaluations, administered at the end of every semester, are our chance to really make a difference in how we are being taught. By giving constructive feedback, we help our teachers so that they can better help us.

However, when it is the end of the semester and we never have to see that teacher again, it becomes rather tempting to write every negative thought that we have ever had down on an anonymous, online survey. There is no way anyone could ever find out, so that means we have permission to be as rude and irrelevant as we want, right?

“I think you could be really pretty if you grew your hair out,” a student commented  to then-religion teacher Claire Hansen.

Uhm. What? Since when is feedback on a haircut a constructive comment? I don’t remember there being questions pertaining to physical appearance on the evaluations. In fact, I don’t even remember there being a place to type in negative comments at all. Last I checked, the free response section is about which teaching styles worked in class and how the teachers can improve the teaching styles that did not work so well.

Here’s another piece of “constructive” advice for English teacher Sean Donoho: “Donoho…more like Don’t Know How to teach. His humor and references are stuck in 2008. We had no guidance what so ever through the whole research paper process, so going into writing the final draft I felt as if it was a complete waste of time and energy I could be placing towards classes and teachers who actually care about our well being. If you are ever going to let Mr. Donoho and his stupid whale tie pin teach next year, I say keep him with the freshman and only freshman because as an upper class woman I wanted to kill myself every time he opened his mouth. Thanks.”

At least she said thanks?

Are you starting to see what the problem is? Telling social studies teacher Sarah Thomas she ruined the entire field of psychology for you is not going to do you any favors. We are not only commenting for ourselves when we fill out these surveys, we are also speaking on behalf of future Panthers.

There are going to be handfuls of teachers that you don’t like in your life. That’s just a fact. Not every teacher will teach in a way that you prosper from. But instead of carping about how the lessons were not effective, why not give some suggestions on how to improve them?

“I value student input. Our purpose is to teach, so we need to know the most effective ways to support you in the classroom,” says Katherine Georgiev, Vice Principal of Academics, who takes it upon herself to read over every evaluation before sending it on to the teachers.

These surveys are about as good as they can get. If they were not anonymous, students would be afraid to even put constructive criticism on the forms, let alone scathing words. A survey that is entirely multiple choice does not give us a real chance to voice our opinions, and a survey that is entirely free response leaves plenty of room for students to rant and go off topic. The administration has found a good balance between the two. The rest is up to us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Teacher evaluations are for the students. Our education matters, and if we want to improve it, we need to stop sending hate and start giving advice. It starts with us. If we put in good feedback, teachers will give us what we need. If all we do is give them style tips, we shouldn’t expect to see any differences in the classroom.

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The School Newspaper of Presentation High School.
Teacher Evaluations: Constructive or Cruel?