There’s Always One

During my undergrad, I worked part time developing and editing materials used to teach IT training workshops. For many years, my boss tried to get me to teach, but I was scared to death. Finally, after I graduated, I tried teaching and I loved it. I mean I really loved it. It's so satisfying and rewarding. I still teach part time because I love it so much, and it keeps my IT skills in tip-top shape.

There is one thing that's frustrating about teaching. At the end of each workshop, we ask participants to complete an evaluation form. We ask questions about what they liked and didn't like, the pace, the instructor's ability to teach, and the assistant's help. We also ask participants to give the class a satisfactory or unsatisfactory rating. My evals are always overwhelmingly thoughtful, reaffirming, and positive. Here are the comments participants left in response to "What did you like best about the class?"

  • good pace and instructor
  • The teacher
  • Using examples and seeing your finished product online.
  • New material

But there is always one. One person thought it was too fast or too slow or the tapas weren't spicy enough. Grrr! I can get 300 excellent evals and it's the bad one that makes me cry and obsess about what I could've done better.

Today that "one" had the nerve to give me an unsatisfactory! I hardly ever get unsats, so it shames me. The evals are anonymous, but I know who it was because he came late and wasn't paying attention. When 99.9% of the class is comfortable with the pace, but one person isn't, I can help that person and answer questions, but I can't hold up the entire class for one dumbass participant. It's a fine line. Also I've had this guy in classes before and he is VERY pedantic.

  • Him: Why do the quotes in my code slant a different way?
  • Me: Why aren't you medicated?

In response to "How could the class be improved?" he wrote:

  • Follow the booklet more closely and make more references to page numbers. I felt the instructor knew her topic very well.

I know it's important to be patient and accommodating and I know that nine people were very pleased, but that one bad eval still smarts. (And for the record, I am very careful to mention what page we're on throughout class. He must have been in his happy place.) 

Such is the nature of the classroom. If you want to teach, you have to be open to feedback. So I square my shoulders and keep treading down the proverbial pedagogical path. (While spouting trite alliterations…and suckin' on a Blow Pop…in the Library…with the lead pipe.)

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