Though it seems to be largely ignored regarding our particular school, the web site ratemyteachers.com offers a method for evaluating teachers that includes a somewhat-disturbing metric: easiness. I’m not quite sure what they mean by this, for the other metrics seem fairly acceptable. One would hope teachers would be helpful, clear, and knowledgeable, and the notion of strictness might be initially off-putting for some teachers, but I take that to be an evaluation of whether the teacher is authoritarian, authoritative, or permissive. (I try to be the second of those three options.)
But easiness? Do we really want easy teachers? Do we really learn anything by doing easy work? Do athletes improve by completing easy workouts?
I would professionally take this as an insult if I were rated “Great” in the easiness category. I want to be challenging; I want to hear students complain, “Mr. S., this is hard.” Indeed, if I could write my own dream end-of-the-year evaluation, it would read, “This is an extremely hard class, but it’s worth the effort because I learned a lot.”
Every year I get a view of how close I’ve come to this goal when I have students write letters to the next year’s students. Some highlights from what my current students read last week from the class of 2012:
- English one honors in the eighth grade with Mr. Scott is the hardest class I personally have taken so far. Mr. Scott will set expectations so high that you don’t feel like you can actually reach them but don’t worry to much, Mr. Scott will never leave you out high and dry.
- By the end of this [first] class you will be scared out of your bananas!
- With Mr. Scott as your teacher, I am positive that this year in this class will not be any easy one. What he has you do, is only for your benefit. By the end of the year, you will see much improvement in you English work. You will eventually thank him for all the hard assignments he had given you, well most likely you will.
- This class will be about one of the hardest classes you have taken from kindergarten through seventh grade. [...] This year you will have to work your butt off and you can’t procrastinate if you want a decent grade.
- This was by far the hardest class I completed all year. You will have homework every night so I hope you enjoyed last night. Don’t stress too much because Mr. Scott is a great teacher and he will prepare you for all the challenges that are yet to come.
- Mr. Scott’s class is a fun yet serious class.
- English I Honors, more technically known as Genre Analysis, is the most abhorred, despicable, positively terrifying course you will take yet, with gigantic papers over 1500 words (3+ pages, if you’re wondering), your thoughts of writing completely overturned, colossal, complicated tales, and most of all, a dash of creativity and thinking outside the box. Are you sure you’re ready?
- This year will be a great one because you are on top of the middle school food chain and you will have at least one class that you will look forward too. Mr. Scott is a nice guy and is very funny.
- You will learn many critical things in this class that you need to take with you after you leave Hughes.
- At first the class seems intimidating, but when you get to the end of the year you feel like you have made a lot of progress.
- You know that extremely nervous feeling you’re having right now? Yeah, you’ll get used to it in about three months… Maybe.
- You’re not going to be able to just walk in and expect it to be an easy A, because it’ll probably be the hardest class you’ve ever taken. Although it may be demanding at times, if you pay attention, listen, and take my advice, you should do just fine.
- I hope you are ready for one of the toughest classes of you life. You will be learning a lot of new things that are very difficult to understand. It will be very helpful but also very hard. [...] If you thought you had a hard class before, just wait until this year.
- Mr. Scott’s class is a very difficult class with many challenges. He is a wonderful teacher. He always keeps you entertained while you are in class. I have learned so many things this year that were very challenging, but I learned that he will always help you if you need it.
- You are about to enter the hardest class of your life. Good luck. Do you have a social life? Well, not anymore. Be prepared for late nights of studying, long reading assignments, and well, you might lose some of your hair, but don’t worry… throughout the year it won’t get any easier.
- Mr. Scott is a very demanding and rigorous teacher that loves to watch his students suffer as they struggle to meet his requirements.
- You are about to have one of the most challenging years of your life. It will be difficult but it will help you tremendously. [...] Mr. Scott is the hardest teacher I have ever had, but he is also one of the best.
- This class requires time and energy, more than you have I suppose. One way to avoid the 100 lashes earned from a late assignment is to stop procrastinating.
- I hope you’re ready for a really great year. This year, you will learn tons of new things, from improved writing skills to reading plays. Prepare yourself for hard work, because this class is definitely not easy. Don’t expect to breeze through the year, but as long as you study, pay attention, and try your hardest, you should be fine. This year definitely won’t be easy, but it won’t be unmanageable. Mr. Scott isn’t that bad!
- English 1 Honors is one of the hardest classes that I’ve taken in the years that I’ve been in school.
- You may get mad at him for giving you so much work, but think first. The assignments you have to do are sometimes nothing compared to how much he as to read and grade. So multiple your work by fifty six and you will know how he feels.
- If you’re nervous about taking this class you shouldn’t be. If you do your work and you complete all assignments then it should be fun!
- Mr. Scotts English One class will be very challenging.
- Welcome to the hardest class of your life! Be prepared to study like never before, work harder than you ever have, and be ready to learn a lot. All my life English has been a class I’ve never had to try in. But this year I have worked more for this class than all my other classes combined. Mr. Scott has taught me so many things and I feel ready for high school and at the end of this year, you will too.
- This will potentially be one of the most difficult classes you will take this year.
It’s an affirmative moment to read things like that about you. Then again, there’s always the question of kissing up…