A master teacher is a scholar, a gifted explainer, a continuous learner and enthusiast for her subject, a visionary, a pedagogical adventurer, a respected mentor. However, without effectiveness, it’s all for nothing. A master teacher is someone who moves students to a new level of skill or understanding.
My students consistently write strong reviews of my courses, mentioning in their comments that I’m funny or interesting, that I use class time well, that they feel liked and respected by me; but I’m not satisfied until I see comments that indicate my students have learned something new, have discovered their latent writing ability, or composed new work they are proud of. Thankfully, I get those comments too—and not just in official student evaluations, but in eureka moments during class, in hallway conversations, in personal letters and email messages. Any negative comments I receive invariably have to do with rigor, and I’m just as proud to receive those. I’m glad to know I’ve been pushing students to work hard and learn well.
Although I don’t believe student evaluations are the best way to test of effectiveness, overall scores can be an indicator of strengths and weaknesses and a helpful tool for teachers to self-assess. My scores are consistently above average in nearly all areas, with my greatest strength being my ability to encourage questions and discussion; the area I need to work on is in articulating even more clearly the objectives of the course.