Teaching at university has been a real treat. I happened upon it and now it is ingrained into my life. I know so many educators from pre-school to post graduate work, put tremendous effort into their work. We have taken a responsibility to educate and share. We are not the keepers of knowledge but the sharers of knowledge which hopefully becomes wisdom. Saying that, every so often, someone is not pleased with our style and a negative comment appears and it makes me wonder. Is it really my fault? I tried my best!
One area that will always sit as a challenge for me though are the performance evaluations and the site ‘Rate My Professor’. I refuse to go on Rate My Professor because I can accept proper criticism and honest feedback but at times, you get the one person who writes a nasty comment saying that you are the worst instructor ever. One can have 100 great comments but that one that comes in with barbs does sting. It is not because it is a blemish on an otherwise untarnished record, but it is because I personally feel I let that person down. If they would have provided feedback during the process, maybe I could have provided some insights that resonated with them and changed the course of action.
Instead, with Rate My Professor, an individual can write what they feel like in an anonymous way and I find that there are really only absolutes. Either you really like the instructor or you did not and if you did not, you are quite strong in your comments against them. The interesting thing though is that the negative comments always place the blame on the instructor. It was our fault that they did not do well. Now in some instances, that might actually be a valid statements but I think what is even more important is to see if the writer actually put in the solid effort that they should have. They might think they did but in reality, it is a lot easier to push the blame on someone else.
Before you write a review on Rate My Professor, comment on a post, a survey, feedback form, or anywhere else, think how it might make someone feel. I recall doing a TEDx speech on personal storytelling and one person left a comment, “Worst TED talk ever. Stop reading your notes and stop talking about yourself.” Well, if you watch the video, I was not reading notes, I did not have notes, I had one small cue card with three points on it I wanted to share, that was all. As for ‘stop talking about yourself’, well it is on personal storytelling so don’t I need to share my stories? I just can’t imagine going through life trying to bring people down. How someone can take a wonderful experience of sharing on a stage authentically and try to ruin it. It is like someone’s birthday and you go up and punch the cake just so they don’t have a nice looking memory. Did this person’s comment affect me…absolutely, but I am not going to allow them to dictate how to react to the situation. They might not be happy and find joy in bringing someone down but I will not allow them to win.
Before you make a comment or judge someone, think about this: how will your comment affect them and if you want to bring someone down, great but you are going to bring yourself down too and if they have a good solid brand, it is a lonely fall for that person who tries to mar someone’s brand. This post is not meant to say poor me but just a reminder that you have no idea what someone is going through and your comment might be the tipping point. Instead, try to bring people up and celebrate them. If you don’t agree with them, have a thoughtful conversation. You will both benefit by it. My students know I don’t go on Rate My Professor…they do. Sometimes it is reassuring that there are positive comments there and that I did something right.
Leave a Reply