Response to the Mid Semester Evaluations – Thanks, I See You

This is just a quick response to the Mid Semester Formative Evaluations that ya’ll conducted with CTL. We’re running low on class time so I don’t want to spend time on this but I thought it was important to respond.

First, thanks so much for doing this. The feedback was critical but fair and that’s exactly what every teacher hopes to see in students after 8 weeks together. It could sometimes lack specificity—that’s why I harp on you about keeping claims and SUPPORTS paired up—but I also know you weren’t exactly prompted for examples. (and I know that’s probably how you feel about me sometimes).

Obviously I have a lot to say (lol, a few of you actually complained about that and I’m sorry). But here are my top 10 or so, divided by category. Beginning with comments that I didn’t really “understand” —

Can you provide more clarification on these statements that appeared across assessments:

  1. (ironic) “we need clearer/more direct expectations on the assignments.” As far as I can tell you’ve got models of many different types of speeches, with many different levels of competences; a template; and a grading rubric. What else can I provide? (that’s not rhetorical; that’s a real question).
  2. “we want all information in one location” That’s a little tricky. Right now we’ve got eLC and the Word Press pretty much. I guess the workbook/textbook as well. And here and there a YouTube activity or whatever. And I tweet links but they’re also usually in multiple places. And we’re adding the Google Calendar.

Lol, okay I totally lied I just proved your point for you…So then let’s put it this way, how do you recommend that I keep the class up to date, widely accessible, and easy for me to use (because if it’s a pain for me to make minor adjustments I won’t make them – I’m a person after all) while also keeping things “in one space,” so to speak? Suggestions? (read the thing below about the Google Calendar first).

Things you need that I will try and do

  1. You want an easier accounting system of homework. Done. I made a Google Calendar. It kind of makes #2 above more complicated but it’s dynamic and it will basically be a quick summary of the Word Press and also replace the re-posting the calendar in hard copy on eLC that I’ve been doing (win all around on that one!)
  2. Better handwriting. I’ll work on sorting this out.
  3. More time to work on speeches in class. This is kind of gonna have to be a compromise. If you’re working on speeches in class then you’ll be doing more out of class preparation and activities. That said, I can offer some breaks during discussion when I say things such as, “now write your analogy and share them with each other,” etc.
  4. Connect the quizzes more to the material. I’m hoping that the changes that I already made – putting the Quiz material up PRIOR to it being discussed, making it open notes, and letting you take it in class—will address this issue.

Things on which I’m going to push back

There actually weren’t many of these. Overall I agreed with all of your suggestions even if some of them just aren’t doable because I’m not wonder woman and/or too many changes will screw us mid semester. However there are a few things I don’t agree with and I think it’s less because they’re invalid (that’s almost never the case) than it’s just that I haven’t motivated you to see what I see. That I can work on. In the meantime, here’s the basics

  1. “speech structure is too rigid.” I think by this you mean the template/the organizational pattern and the SUPPORTS combo makes you feel restricted or it’s arbitrary/doesn’t feel like how real speech works…? I just don’t agree. This formula is my single greatest accomplishment and I’d be 100 bucks there’s not a TED Talk on Earth that wouldn’t be better if it followed my formula (taking into account the skill level of those speakers to bend the language). t’s actually a diverse formula that leaves a lot of room for flexibility but tries to eliminate what messes up early speakers: abstractness, disorientation, being obvious, not observing the time limit, and losing the audience. I will work harder to connect the system we learn to you in practical and hopefully illuminating ways but fundamentally I maintain the structure is the most valuable thing I probably teach you.
  2. “feedback doesn’t tell us how to fix things it’s just critical.” that’s probably fair but you also have to think about the position I’m in. Telling you what to fix on a speech that’s kind of “over” (that’s not a good word to use….) isn’t going to do you much good. Strong critique about where your weaknesses are (for example, your warm up is too “I” centered, your analogy is weak or missing, and your organizational pattern isn’t identifiable) tells you what to focus on for next time without telling you HOW to fix it because I don’t know what your next speech will discuss. That’s why we have meetings, writing groups, etc. I can think more on this but ultimately I just don’t know how to make the feedback about “fixing” the speech. I just try to point out strengths and weaknesses that will help you most moving forward and then hope that those things either sort themselves out as we work in class OR that you reach out and ask for an appointment. So maybe try to think of the feedback as a kind of dialogue that might need follow up rather than as “the end” of something?

So I have things I need to mull over. But overall just thanks again for this experience. The feedback was just so fabulous. Obviously some was hard to hear but all of it was very, very fair and some of it was extremely flattering. It reflects that we have positive feelings about each other and that, on most days, you are enjoying my company and learning as much from me as I am from interacting with you. That’s really awesome. It put me in a really optimistic head space going into the hardest part of the semester while giving me things to strive for.

I actually aim to provide the same experience for you when you get feedback so maybe I will use this as a model!!

❤ L


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I am a rhetorical scholar, public speaker, and teacher at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I study speech and contemporary U.S. political culture and teach courses in public speaking, interpersonal and visual communication, speech and media, and rhetorical theory and criticism. I have been featured on RabbitBox Storytelling and TEDx.

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