I just read through the course evaluations for my two classes that I taught at Large University this semester (music history 2 for music majors & popular music for non-music majors). I have seen enough course evaluations (or class climate surveys or whatever they’re called) to know that they should mostly be taken with a grain of salt; but I also believe they provide valuable information for me, especially for a new-to-me class or format, something that this article also points out.
As a first-time music history instructor, I was more concerned with that course’s feedback, and thankfully, over half of my nearly 70 students responded. Aside from the (requisite?) “music history is irrelevant and/or a waste of time for performers” comment and the student who basically wanted the answers to all of the tests, “is that so much to ask? (actually, yes, yes it is…),” the bulk of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and helpful.1
I am incredibly happy/relieved/encouraged that my students had a positive experience in my class (and liked me!), but I am most pleased that more than a handful of students commented that I seemed to care for them as people & wanted more for them than *just* learning music history. And it’s true. I reminded them to take care of themselves; to make good decisions; to be good friends; and also to study, come to class, and keep up with assignments. Even though this was sometimes done in a humorous way or as a quick comment, I’m really glad that students noticed, and found it meaningful.2
One of my mentors used to say, “Every class has its own personality.” Sometimes classes just work, and sometimes they don’t work. Thankfully, this one did. Yet while I bask in the positive here, I am not naive: I worked my tail off this semester & at times I was barely hanging on to my four jobs by a thread; not to mention the state of contingent/adjunct/part-time faculty is pretty much one big mess; plus, I still don’t exactly know how I will pay all of my bills in academic year 2018-19. Yet for now, it’s mostly working for me, and I’m grateful for the chance to talk about music while still having some sort of positive influence on a group of (mostly) talented and interesting emerging adults.
But to the one who didn’t think my jokes were funny: you’re so wrong.
And to the one who said, “Please hire her as a full-time professor!”: obviously, you are a genius.
1. A portion of this positive feedback was a referendum of sorts on the students’ rather miserable and disastrous Music History I experience, as many stated in the comments; but I’d like to believe at least some of them had an objective opinion about our class. Also, to the many students who said 70 was too big for this class, I agree.
2. One student said that these sorts of gestures & comments “made me feel like there was at least one person in this building who cared about me. Thank you for that.” Yikes. Also, students did actually say they learned a great deal & the majority of respondents said that the class challenged them to think and learn.