The teaching profession evaluates teachers on a regular basis. This includes those teaching at the college level. Either a dean observes the instructor and/or the students evaluate the professor. After the semester is over, the professor gets a copy of the evaluation. The school hopes that the teacher will use the evaluation to improve that person's teaching. Obviously, I read each of my evaluations. When I don't get perfect marks across the board, I get my underwear in a knot. Being anal, above average is not adequate. I can't believe it when I don't get superior in every category.
Before class last week, I chatted with a couple students that arrived early for class. A couple of them giggled amongst themselves about some evaluation, which obviously had to do with me. One of my students had just filled out an evaluation of me. This came as a surprise since evaluation forms were weeks away from being given to students.
Again, they laugh knowing that I probably didn't know to what they were referring. They finally told me that they had rated me on an Internet web site. They inquired whether I knew about the site or had seen my evaluations. I didn't have to play dumb; I had never heard of www.ratemyprofessors.com.
When I returned home, I pulled up the site and accessed my evaluations. They were what I expected. Overall, I had a 4.6 out of a 5.0 rating. Even though I couldn't explain why I hadn't gotten a perfect 5.0, I accepted the rating-all except for one category. It seems that one aspect that is important to students is that of having a "hot" professor. While being hot or not isn't factored into the overall evaluation, this form notes how many students rated the professor as hot by placing a red chili pepper icon next to the professor's name. Being an overachieving first born, I expected to do well in that unofficial category also.
Much to my chagrin, I hadn't received a red chili pepper from every one that evaluated me. I sat there without moving for several minutes starring at the computer screen. There must be a mistake. While I am not a Robert Redford, I'm not Quasimodo either. However, I bet that if I looked like Redford, I would have gotten red chili peppers from all the evaluators. Well, perhaps not. Most of my students are so young that they wouldn't have seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
After I pulled myself together, I went looking for my wife. I found her sitting on the patio enjoying the setting sun of a pleasant fall evening. I gave her without comment a printout of my evaluation including the missing red chili peppers.
Glancing over the evaluation, she merely said, "That was a good evaluation." I responded with disbelief. Good? I pointed to the two measly red chili peppers. That is less than a 30% on the hot scale! Humiliating was the word that I would employ to describe this evaluation.
Realizing that I was reeling from this painful evaluation, she said that she thought that I was hot. That was fain praise and much too late. I left to return to my computer feeling that she was patronizing me.
I resolved that I would work on the hotness issue. The next morning found me doing more crunches and riding longer on my stationery bike. I had been less than diligent in my fittest workouts, and it showed. I had gained about 10 pounds since coming back from China this spring. If I wanted more red chili peppers, I would need to shed those unwanted and un-hot pounds.
Then I showered and shaved. I went to the closet to pick out what I would wear that day. It dawned on me that I had a wardrobe that, while nice, surely won't get many red chili peppers. Somehow, I need to spice it up.
As I drove to class, I continued to pout about my failing hotness grade. Then it came to me while waiting for the traffic to clear, I wasn't young any more. While I am healthy and pretty fit, I will never be the hottie that I imagined that I once was.
Perhaps, I should do all that I can to remain healthy physically and do all that I can to stay "hot" mentally. If only www.ratemyprofessor.com would add another category-one with a tack icon as in "sharp as a tack".
This article appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on 11/27/05.