The Unfairly Judged Professor
An All Too Familiar Tale
She takes her teaching responsibilities seriously; she is committed to making a difference in her students' lives. She prepares her syllabus meticulously, with class-by-class activities and assignments, the most relevant and up to date readings, illustrative cases, experiential activities. She prepares thoroughly for each class, working hard to draw out her students, engaging them, encouraging them, challenging them.
Some days are better than others, but all in all she is feeling good about the work she is doing and about her vocation as a professor. And then it hits! The student evaluations. The thing about these evaluations is that for the most part they are positive, some very positive. 5's on a 5-point scale with notations written in the margins -- "best course so far," "appreciated your command of the material," and so forth. But then there are the others, the 2's and 3's, along with the comments -- "too shallow," "too many hours wasted in class discussion," "not enough substance from the professor," "I was expecting more." The professor draws little solace from the positive evaluations, the 3.9 overall rating, the glowing comments from several students. What keeps her up at night and continues to trouble her during the day are those 2's and 3's, the negative comments, the criticisms and complaints, and worst of all, the fact that she was blindsided since none of this came to the surface during the life of the course.
So here we have an all too familiar classroom tale: The Righteously Screwed Student ("I paid my money, I came to class, I was entitled to a solid education, and you, Professor, didn't deliver.") And on the other side, we have The Unfairly Judged Professor ("I worked my tail off, I did my research, I put together the best course I could, I gave it my all, and never did I hear a word of complaint. And this is the response I get! Unfair!")
The Independence Bias. In the university classroom, no less than in all our other social systems, we exist in relationship with one another (see Seeing Systems, Act II), yet when it comes to evaluations our focus tends to be on the individuals and not on the relationship; the professor evaluates (grades) the student, and then it is the student's chance to evaluate the professor. In all of this, the relationship goes unnoticed.
Professor and student exist in a Provider/Customer relationship in which the professor has designated responsibility for providing an educational service and the student is the designated recipient of that service. (I think it is fair to say that in higher education the teacher/student relationship is one of Provider/Customer, but that this is less clearly the case in lower forms of education where many of the students may feel more like inmates than customers. I maintain, although it is an arguable point, that students in lower education are the willing and unwilling products of educational systems and that the customers lie elsewhere: universities, organizations, communities, parents.)
Once our eyes shift from the individuals to the relationship, then we begin to focus not only on the attributes of the parties, but also on the qualities of the relationship. And one quality that is particularly relevant is partnership: that is, is the relationship characterized by a joint commitment to the success of whatever venture the members are engaged in? In the case of the professor/student relationship, is that relationship characterized by a joint commitment to the success of the educational venture?
The Responsibility Dance. It may seem eminently reasonable for professor and student to be in partnership with one another, to be jointly committed to the success of their educational venture; yet, that is not how it often goes in the professor/student relationship or in most other Provider/Customer relationships. A more familiar pattern is the responsibility dance in which responsibility for success resides primarily, if not exclusively, with Provider (in this case, the professor) and minimally, if at all, with the Customer (here the student). Provider is responsible, Customer not responsible.
When this responsibility dance occurs, the relationship becomes one of non-partnership; yet the absence of partnership in and of itself may not be a problem. The Provider professor may take up all responsibility for the course and discharge it brilliantly; and the Customer students who have felt no responsibility for the course still emerge delighted customers. No problem. (One could rightfully argue that this is only true in the short term, but that there is a gradual and mutual disabling process that goes on the longer that non-partnership form continues.)
But now let us observe what happens in this non-partnership pattern when delivery is less than satisfactory. Our non-responsible student becomes The Righteously Screwed Customer ("You, Professor, were responsible; I was entitled; and you let me down.") And our responsible professor becomes the Unfairly Judged Provider ("I gave it my best; I taught a good course; your reaction is unfair.")
The student can, with impunity, blame the professor for the failure of the course, but the professor cannot blame the student, for if the responsibility dance is on, it is clear that the professor alone is responsible. (The grade the professor gives the student is an evaluation of the degree of mastery of the course content not of the student's contribution to partnership.)
We Are Stuck With Relationship, but Do We Want Partnership? Democracy is not a requirement in the classroom. There have been many great professors who have taught many great courses in which there have undoubtedly been many disgruntled students, yet no one would have thought it necessary, much less appropriate, to have the students evaluate the professors. The teacher taught and the student coped as best one could. But once we choose democracy in the classroom, then the game shifts and partnership becomes relevant. Now we are in this together and, under these conditions, it is as valid for the professor to evaluate the student's contribution to partnership as it is for the student to evaluate the professor's.
The professor's evaluation of the student's contribution to partnership might comprise such statements as:
* You were a failure as a customer.
* Where were your complaints during the course, when we still might have had the opportunity to deal with them?
* Did you ask me to clarify points you didn't understand?
* Did you speak up when you thought student conversations were dragging on too long?
* Did you suggest topic areas that you expected to be covered and which were not?
* And so on.
Professor/student is a relationship. Our choice is whether or not to create it as a partnership relationship. As a professor I may not want that partnership; like many providers, I may not welcome the intrusion of the customer into what I consider my business. And as a student, I may not welcome the opportunity of partnership; like many customers, I may be firmly rooted in my entitlement and not feel that it is my business to help the provider deliver the service I expect. What can drive us toward partnership would be our common interest in creating the best possible product, service, learning experience. And if our choice is not to work on building partnership into the relationship, then we can expect occasional if not frequent bouts of "unfairly judged" and "righteously screwed."
Many of us work on creating partnership in our classrooms by having an initial contracting session with our students, clarifying in that process what each of us expects from the other. Yet we also know that relationship is an ongoing process and if our focus is on partnership, then we need to come back regularly to examine that relationship. Is the Provider professor opening him/herself to evaluations, suggestions, and reactions from the students; and is the Customer student making it clear to the professor what is and is not working in that process? Are we jointly committed to the success of this educational venture?
The Key to Ending Pain With Others
It has taken me 40 years to learn exactly how to free myself from pain with others. After reading the book The Dammapada I sat under a tree to contemplate, and meditate on the wisdom I was soaking in to the depths of my heart, mind and soul.
Simple Love Spells
Here are some very simple rituals, some old, and some new that might help you achieve your romantic intentions.
Build your Social Support Network
A social support network is a group of people who you can count on to support you. They may be the first people you call when something upsetting has happened, when you have a difficult decision to make, or when you have fantastic news to share. Some of the people in your social support network might be professionals and support you in very specific ways (i.e. your family doctor or your life coach), and other people in your network you might live with or be in contact with every day.
No More Lonely Weekends!
How do you react when you are faced with spending another weekend alone because nobody has invited you to do anything with them?
Victorias Secret Disclosed!
SHHHHHH, don't tell anybody, but, I know the secret.
Infidelity: Spying is NOT Revenge
Do not use what you find on your cheating spouse as ammunition for revenge. Sure, you may have wonderfully violent fantasies of what you would really like to do to him/her and the other person. This is very normal. But, don't act them out.
What Keeps Couples Together
There are several things you can do, especially when your relationship is loving and happy, to ensure that it remains this way for the long term. The first principle of a lasting relationship is your clear intention to preserve your mutual affection, respect and friendship. Dr. John Gottman, a towering figure in couples counseling, achieved this insight after more than thirty years in the research and study of couples. In his bestselling book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, he discusses why most marriage therapy fails, concluding that resolving conflicts and improving communication is important but not, of itself, what keeps couples together. Rather, he finds that "friendship fuels the flames of romance." However intense or frequent their battles, the couples that last have never lost their fondness and respect for one anther. After describing the kinds of behavior that undermine mutual regard, Gottman describes seven things that happy marriages have in common, then he shows you how to introduce those seven principles into your own relationship. If ever you feel that the ties that bind are weakening, this would be a good place to start looking for things you can do to rekindle affection. This material is also available in audio or video format. Other factors that contribute to relationship success include learning to express your feelings, both positive and negative; learning to disagree in ways that are not destructive; and learning to accept things you can't change. Beyond self-help Beyond information in books, tapes and videos, there are couple workshops. Some might find it more effective to go directly to a good couples counselor. If one of you is allergic to the idea of counseling or therapy, look for a couples coach, which might be more acceptable. Enter "couples coach" into Google and see what comes up, or ask a recommended therapist to serve as a coach. Many religious organizations have trained conciliators who work with couples and many clergy are trained in couples counseling. In any case, you should only work with someone who is trained, experienced and certified to do the job. The important thing is that you not sit on your hands if one of you begins to feel that your mutual regard is fading. If you are committed to your relationship, you need to make it a priority, meaning there will be times when you have to put extra effort into it--get information, go to a workshop, get help. Above all, try to discuss things you can do to increase mutual regard and affection and decide together what steps to take. Relationship Resources The companion CD that's included in my book Legal Essentials for California Couples has a fine article, How to Get the Most From Couples Therapy. Appendix B in the book lists relationship resources that professionals have told us they recommend to their clients. One we like is The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, who points out that people have different ways of expressing and receiving love, so that one person might be expressing it in a way that the other does not get, as where a man works hard to earn material things for his loved one and buys her gifts, but she craves touching and nice words. It's a matter of getting your signals straight. Other resources include the highly regarded Couple Communication workshops, which have trained over 600,000 people and are conducted across the U.S. by thousands of certified instructors. To find an instructor near you, visit www.couplecommunication.com. Then there's the respected Marriage Encounter with nation-wide programs for troubled couples that are based on Judeo-Christian concepts, though you need not be religious to participate. You can find more information about them at www.marriage-encounter.org. There's a mountain of good books, tapes, videos and workshops out there that you can use besides the examples I've given. Time spent on this subject will be richly rewarded. That's the whole point--to make the effort. The most innovative parts of the Couples Contract, featured in Legal Essentials for California Couples, are the agreements you make to take these kinds of actions when your relationship needs some help. The Couples Contract can be used by couples in any state with some minor revisions. To learn more about how the Couples Contract can protect and preserve your relationship, visit www.nolocouples.com. Copyright 2005 Ed Sherman
What Is Love And The Love Equation
What is Love? This question has bothered me for a long time. After listening to many perspectives and examining Love from several angles, the thought came to my mind that we have over-complicated Love and need easier to understand models. I decided to put forward two equations, one defining the relationship between Love and Fear and the other about Love itself. The first equation is:
Why He Left Me After...?
The next morning he /or she is gone. And because this is a man's privilege, I'll try to give some answers to the women.
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Setting up personal boundaries is important in all types of relationships, but in intimate ones, it is all the more important. As with the closer the relationship will become it is easier for those lines to blur. You may ask yourself what is a boundary and why setting, or recognizing them do for me. Boundaries are personal limits we have with other people emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Often we already have these built-in, but sadly we often ignore them because we were taught to be nice to everyone, or that our desire to be in a relationship may outweigh how we behave.
Long Distance Love
Before the advent of the internet, long-distance relationships were rare. Most people met their mates in school, through a friend or neighbor, at a party or in a bar. In today's world, it is not unusual for men and women to connect online who live hundreds and even thousands of miles apart.
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Gag gifts can be very funny. They can also cause pain for the recipient, so you must choose your gag gift carefully. Be sure your recipient has a sense of humor about what you are going to "gag" him about. The gag, while funny, must also be tasteful rather than ridiculing some fault of the recipient.
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We used to joke amongst the couples we are close to, "who would get custody of the friends in a divorce". We are a very close group of friends that met in college around 20 years ago, and have remained close through many of life's changes and transitions. Never did we think that our joke would have to eventually be addressed.
Great Relationships: 7 Secrets You Must Know to Make It
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"If he comes we welcome, If he goes we do not pursue" Zen saying
Common Relationship Problems
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Top Ten List of What to Do and What Not to Do in Relationships
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