Rate my teacher — does it affect our teaching

Rate My Teacher — Does It Affect Our Teaching?

When I first started teaching I had no idea about the website Rate My Teacher. As a new teacher at the time, I was curious to see how I was performing in the eyes of my students. I wanted to know if I was being helpful to my students in the style that I was teaching them, or if my students liked what I was doing. As a new teacher we do not always know how we are doing because we are not often told, or able to observe other teachers on a continuous basis. We are also at a point in our careers where we have not had many previous classes for comparison.

Many teachers feel the need to check out sites like Rate my Teacher because they do not often get recognition for the things they are doing right at a school. Administration and other teachers are often too busy to notice or to make a point of noticing things you do well because they are often engrossed in finishing off their ‘have to do’ list before any of the ‘nice to do’ things can happen. Rightfully so; however, in a school the ‘have to do’ list is often never ending.

I have noticed that the amount of students that take the time to comment on this site is pretty minimal from year to year for each teacher considering how many students we teach in any given semester. I believe I may have 3 students comment a year out of the 180 that I teach. This makes it hard to make a formal judgement about our teaching practice based on this site alone. It is always nice to have someone say that they loved you as a teacher on Rate my Teacher; but, when I think about it realistically, the sample size of people that comment, in comparison to our student population is so low. This makes the Rate my Teacher site a relatively inaccurate judgment of our practice.

It is also ineffective to generalize these comments to assume that we are getting through to all of our students, based on a response from a couple individuals. After all, when many students do not hand in assignments, are they likely to contribute their input to a Rate my Teacher Site? Some students may also say they loved your class because It was easy, or say they hated you because you punished them for not following classroom rules. Some students use Rate my Teacher to vent about a teacher that they did not like simply to get back at them for something that may have happened in class. This is unfair because others students, teachers or parents view these comments and may form false judgements about a particular teacher based upon a sample population that is too small to have validity. Taking this idea to a medical example, we would never trust a medication that was only tested on 3 of 180 people who needed it.

If we are looking to improve our teaching practice, and searching for more relevant ideas on how to do that, instead of referring to Rate My Teacher, and feeling either confident or discouraged from the comments on this site; it would be more effective to hand out a survey in each of our classes, containing questions specifically about the courses we are teaching, asking students about what they enjoyed, what they disliked, if they felt that lessons were delivered with clarity or anything else that you feel relevant to help your practice next term. Rather than consulting Rate my Teacher, and being tempted to gossip about other teachers and comments made about them, it is better to spend our time by effective in our own practice and getting students to rate our classes each term, so we have an idea about where improvements can be made.

Do not forget to check out the link in the resource box below. I’ve got a great free report that details my experiences so you can learn from them.

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