As the new semester revs up this week, my thoughts drift back to an adjunct instructor whom I mentored last year.
A cool, lithe blonde, she shared with me how difficult it had always been for her to get valid, helpful student feedback in end-of-semester evaluations.
“Sing Hosannah to the choir, Sister!” my enthusiastic phantom mental churchgoer person chimed in. As I nodded vigorously and started leafing through my hymnal, I also thought, “Don’t I know what you’re talking about, Blondie Adjunct! When I read the comments from students at the end of the term, they usually veer from ‘We should have used the textbook more’ directly to ‘I wish we hadn’t used the book so much’ to ‘This class, which I dreaded, has made me love writing’ to ‘I want my money back; all this class taught me was to write a thesis-driven academic essay’ to—an all-time favorite—‘Jocelyn certainly seems to think she’s funny.’”Oh, yes, I am well familiar with the cacophony and discord that constitute a class’ final assessment of my performance. As I started to raise my hand to give Blondie Adjunct a high five of solidarity, she continued her original train of thought:
“I mean, year after year I’ve had to caution students, when evaluation time comes around, that they should not be complimenting me on my ‘lovely dress with the dragonflies’ or on my ‘delightful dangly earrings’ or asking me where I get my hair cut.” Almost moaning at this point, she went on: “I actually have to tell them to keep their comments focused on my teaching and their learning and not my appearance.”
Nonplussed, I felt my high fiving hand drop down to my side, where it hung limply, kind of reddish and frecklish and wrinkledy, not at all blondish or coolish or lissome.
Strange, thought my hand and the person attached to it,
I’ve never run into that problem.
These reminiscences now have me reconsidering my first-day-of-class outfit for tomorrow:
Clearly, I’m going for something memorable enough to merit admiring words 16 weeks from now. All I want is for the comments on their evaluations to sidestep mention of textbooks, learning to write, and my attempts at humor.
Indeed, if their comments revolve around my appearance, won’t that make me an Honorary Blonde?
I’ve always wanted to have more fun.