RateMyTeacher.com

ratemyteacher.comTwo years after my departure from full-time public school teaching, my name and “reputation” seem to have lingered on after me. Someone pointed this website out to me, and lo and behold — I’ve been rated! Looks like three out of four reviews are positive, but I sure did make one person mad. Of course, all I could think about when reading the critique of myself as an “uptight loser” who doesn’t realize there’s “more to life than teaching” was the fact that my reviewer made about three grammatical mistakes in one short, poorly constructed sentence. So, I have to agree with his or her negative assessment — especially because, as a high school English teacher, I apparently failed to do my job and teach the proper writing skills necessary for intelligent discourse in a public forum.

Anyhow, if any of my former students would like to add your two cents to the mix (positive or negative), please feel free to exercise your right of free speech!


Comments

RateMyTeacher.com — 50 Comments

  1. I’m on the site, too, but haven’t looked in a while. My friend, Christine, and I rated each other to be funny (and to see what it would take to get the coolest happy face).
    🙂

  2. Well, free speech is free speech, even if it is by other teachers. Justice Black would agree.

  3. Noone listen to this idiot bonehead. I guess his name says it all. If you are getting bashed as a teacher then there is a good chance you are a horrible teacher. These kind of reviews helped me pick teachers are aren’t complete assholes who give good grades only to sucks-ups. Don’t rate a teacher unless you’ve expirenced that teacher’s ability to educate. Bonehead here is obviously a lousy teacher who is getting bad reviews and probably shouldn’t teach.

  4. I respectfully disagree with both Bonehead and Nonya — both of which, btw, remind me why I dislike the use of “nicknames” for authentic discussion and conversation.

    Bonehead: As Dante says above, free speech is free speech. When you try to pollute it, even for good, you are doing a disservice to the whole concept of freedom. I would ask readers NOT to take Bonehead’s advice to give “random” teachers “great ratings,” but rather give teachers you have studied under accurate, objective ratings, including praise for those who did their jobs well.

    Nonya: I think you deserve Bonehead’s nickname more than he/she does. Having been both a teacher and a student for many years, I can honestly say there is no correlation whatsoever between “getting bashed as a teacher” (presumably by students) and being a “horrible teacher.” In fact, it’s quite probable that the opposite is true. If a teacher is truly teaching, expanding young minds, he or she is bound to stir up both inspiration and criticism in equal measure. Nevertheless, I do agree with your dictum not to “rate a teacher unless you’ve expirenced [sic] that teacher’s ability to educate.” Although you follow it up with a ridiculously unfounded assumption about Bonehead.

    I am also aware that many students use ratemyteacher.com to find teachers who require little or no effort on their part. That’s fine — they will get the education (or lack thereof) they deserve. These problems have a way of solving themselves in the long run…

  5. I think teachers just need to chill you can tell whos good and whos bad all the teachers dont have to hate all their students or be mean to a student because they had a bad day they tell us to set our problems aside and wait for class to be over and they should do the same

  6. Megan — I want so much to understand what you’re trying to say, so please don’t take this personally or as an insult, but punctuation would be *really* helpful to use somewhere in your comment, so I know which words belong to which sentence.
    😉

    What I *think* I’m getting from your comment is that teachers should treat their students the same way they expect to be treated. Right?

    I agree completely. In all the years I was a teacher, I never “hated” a student. I’m sure we got on each others’ last nerve some of the time, but that happens even in families, and doesn’t mean they hate each other.

    There’s no excuse ever for a teacher to be mean to a student. Which is why I hope that when they “rate” their teachers on RateMyTeacher.com, students will try not to be deliberately mean to teachers, in their words or their tone — that would be the same as your idea that teachers and students should treat each other the way they want to be treated themselves.

    As long as they do that, I have absolutely no problem with “rating” teachers. Actually, I’m pretty sure students have been rating their teachers among their friends for as long as school have been around…

  7. I think this site is ridiculous for most public education, particularly middle school. students do not get to pick their own classes or teachers at this level, at least where I teach. Thus, it is not a tool that a student can use in helping them to select a class–I can see how this would be useful in college. I haven’t found any of the comments left about me to be particularly helpful in aiding my instruction; the negative ones are rude and pointless–“she thinks she’s so funny and she’s not” or “she stinks and taught us nothing”–nothing constructive.

    verall, during the time I was on Ratemyteacher.com nearly all my comments were positive–but all they did was repeat things my students told me to my face or what they wrote me in letters. I appreciate the compliments and am hurt by the insults (I can’t even call them criticisms, really). Furthermore, some of the teachers that are rated the most wonderful are teachers I know for a fact do absolutely nothing in their class. One got asked to not comeback, yet was rated so high on RMT that it was ridiculous. The kids just liked him because he put on violent movies for them to watch and would complain about the other teachers to them.

    Another teacher, who I never cared for personally but who was an amazing teacher, got rated down for being strict and students spent their time pondering her sexuality.

    I just think if you are going to have a consequence free anonymous sounding board about teachers available to emotional adolescents then you sure as hell better get a moderator in there to protect the people that you are allowing comment on.

  8. I agree with Megan.

    I’m not sure the originl purpose of that site was to constructively rate teachers on the merit of their skills. Anonymous students commenting about NON-anonymous teachers in a very public way subjects said teacher to potential abuse and danger. It has got to be moderated and should provide parameters for critique before being published out there on the Net. Megan is right: “She stinks” for example does not help one iota in determining teacher effectivity. If a student has a problem with a teacher, there are local, internal procedures to help solve it.

    Free speech is for those with the maturity to handle such right.

  9. @buddhist punk: I was with you all the way up to your last statement:

    Free speech is for those with the maturity to handle such right.

    You’re wrong. If free speech is a right at all, it has to be a right for everyone. You might as well say that “the right to live is only for smart people” or “the right to privacy is only for rich people.”

    Rights have to be protected, even for those with whom we disagree, or whom we consider not deserving of them. If we waver from that stance, it’s a quick downhill slide to a very exclusive and elitist society.

    Whether it’s constructive or not is beside the point. Ratemyteacher.com provides teachers with the right to defend themselves with words — and I daresay that a college-educated teacher should be able to wield those words far more effectively than a high school student. *Should* is the key word here. As a teacher, I have received reviews on ratemyteacher.com that are both constructive, and absolutely ridiculous. But I will defend to the death the right of my students to voice their ill-informed, poorly worded criticisms in a free public venue.

    Free speech is for everyone. Period. If you’re not ok with that, you might be happier in China.

  10. You’re right, Neal. It should have read: Free speech ‘should be a right’ for mature people.

    While a beautiful concept, free speech is a two-edged sword, much like a katana, and should be handled properly. In real life, not all ideas are born equal. Political correctness, anyone?

    “Free speech” should be modified to prevent/control hooliganism and pointless gossip-mongering particularly on this website. Ad hominem attacks were the point of my argument. Never mind civility, what about objectivity?

    Anonymous griping about the idiosyncracies, physical appearance and even sexuality of underpaid, overworked teachers to other anonymou students, is nothing but an excuse to gossip on a mass level. If Columbine and Virginia Tech had never happened, hey I’m all for reading ill-informed, poorly worded criticisms in a free public venue.

    About China: who knows, theirs might even be the right balance of free speech and control?

  11. I am one of those teachers who got bashed in EVERY review on ratemyteacher.com and was initially upset by it until I saw who got good reviews. Basically, most of the teachers inflate grades. Many of our seniors take Algebra 2 & Trigonometry and get an A at our high school and then go to the California State University system and are placed in General Math (they’ve come back to tell me). Or they do really poorly on the SAT. There was an article in the paper saying that the majority of students in the State University systems nationwide are in remedial classes due to grade inflation in high school
    My class is considered too hard in this environment. And I am mean and evil because I call parents, don’t let students socialize in class, sleep in class, eat Kentucky Fried Chicken, or listen to ipods in class. All of the above which is allowed in many of the other classrooms. And I ask then to follow instructions explicitly (as any employer would do).
    Also what concerns me is not only what happened to students who are unprepared for college and the work world due to low standards in high schools, but will future employers of teachers be looking at this?
    My better students (some of who have requested to have me teach them all 4 years of high school) don’t post on ratemyteacher.com. They are busy studying instead! I really hope ratemyteacher.com becomes a victim of the recession. It just contributes to the overall dumbing down of America.

  12. RMT site is particularly damaging to new teachers, especially the conscientious ones. I don’t know about others first year of teaching, but I was about to have a nervous breakdown, extending myself in every direction to do the best I could. I found the RMT site on accident and was utterly heartbroken at the comments. The first year of teaching is a fragile time, not the time for insults and lies.

    Freedom of Speech is a wonderful privilege; however, it needs to be accompanied by responsibility and accountability for those words.

    I have requested twice for RMT to remove my profile, as I am no longer teaching. Nothing has been done. Does anyone have a phone number for them?

  13. To Samantha, MOteacher, and CJteacher:

    As a teacher myself, I couldn’t disagree with you more.

    As you’ll note from my blog comment policy (which technically MOteacher and CJteacher are in violation of) I’m ordinarily not a big fan of anonymity. However, in this case I make an exception, and here’s why:

    There’s a power structure involved. Although I know that sometimes it doesn’t seem this way for today’s teacher’s, the truth is that in the classoom, the teacher is THE figure of power and authority, and the student, despite a few basic rights, is on the other end of that stick.

    RateMyTeacher.com, like many Web2.0 sites, levels that power structure by giving voice to those who ordinarily would not have one. Anonymity is required, because if students attached their names to their reviews, an unscrupulous teacher might take retribution through the gradebook, or worse. And yet, as adults, no one would question our right to post a lengthy, colorfully worded (and usually spiteful) rant about our cell phone provider, or the service we received at a local restaurant.

    I certainly “wish” that students would use the service responsibly, and not just bitch about teachers who give too much work — but as I’ve said above, I stand 100% behind their right to voice (even anonymously) their opinions in a public forum.

    We can whine about how their words can be “abusive” or “hurt our feelings” — and yes, I’ve been both praised and bashed mercilessly by my students on the site — but the truth is that we, as educated professionals, have just as much (hopefully more) power through the RMT site to defend ourselves with the same weapons we are being assaulted with. And I use the terms “weapon” and “assaulted” entirely tongue-in-cheek. If one doesn’t have a fairly thick skin in the first place, one should probably find a different vocation than teaching.

    For the record, yes, MOteacher, I would stand behind your right to rate students anonymously, even though I think it would be in poor form to do so, since you have other vehicles of expression and redress that they do not.

    To turn Samantha’s suggestion on it’s head that her “better students don’t post on RMT because they’re too busy working,” I would submit that the better teachers don’t read what’s posted on RMT because they’re too busy teaching! I suggest we all go back to what we (supposedly) learned in our education coursework and read some more Paulo Freire, lest we sound too foolish painting ourselves as victims of oppression by those oh-so-powerful adolescents in our care.

    Honestly, people…

  14. Neal – there are two points I would like to address in your post. First, “There’s a power structure involved… the teacher is THE figure of power and authority, and the student, despite a few basic rights, is on the other end of that stick.” While this may be true in financially poorer school districts, it definitely does not apply to rich, “high-status” districts. The power in these wealthy districts is very much held by the parents, and, by proxy, their children. Both the parents and the students knew that. If a student of mine disagreed with a grade, he would promptly go to his parents, who would contact my Principal, who would then pull me in and give me a ‘talking to’ regarding the grade. Teachers do not always have the stick.

    Secondly, I wonder at your statement, “painting ourselves as victims of oppression by those oh-so-powerful adolescents”. Depending upon the school, adolescents can have tremendous power. For example, I knew a teacher who was fired after a group of students decided to make that happen. (I overheard my students plotting to get her fired, in fact.) She taught upper level math and she was a challenging teacher; they didn’t appreciate that she was putting their 4.8 gpas at risk, and so used their “freedom of expression” with their parents and the school board to ensure her unemployment. As a non-tenured teacher, she had no recourse. While maybe not “oppressed”, she was definitely victimized by her students. (And no, I am not writing about myself in the third-person.)

    You are obviously a thoughtful writer, please do not make blanket statements regarding the dynamics of all schools and all classrooms.

  15. To AnneB — you’re right, I’m sure my experiences teaching in inner-city Dallas don’t apply to whatever school district you’re in. I have an easy solution to that problem: Don’t teach in a “rich, high-status” school district, as you call it. Your work as a teacher will be far more appreciated and fulfilling if you teach in a “financially poorer district” where every decent teacher makes a world of difference every day.

    And if you must, for some reason that I can’t possibly comprehend, teach in a district where students have more power than you do — please don’t complain about them exercising their right of free speech. Just teach them in your classroom and by your example the appropriate method of public discourse, and if you are unsuccessful in getting the message through, then please remember that you alone chose to place yourself in this environment. You could always choose the poorer one down the street, where you would likely be received with open arms (and they’re *always* hiring).

    Urban, inner-city schools come with their own challenges, of course, and I did my best to meet each of them with creativity and compassion. If ratemyteacher.com and “powerful teenagers” are truly the most difficult experiences you face teaching in a wealthy district, then I’m sure you’re creative and compassionate enough to do the same.

  16. Neal, I am very surprised at your comment to AnneB regarding her challenges as an educator: “Don’t teach in a “rich, high-status” school district, as you call it…if you are unsuccessful in getting the message through, then please remember that you alone chose to place yourself in this environment. You could always choose the poorer one down the street.” Don’t you feel that her students have just as much of a right to a quality education as your students in the inner city? I understand your stance on freedom of speech, but should a handful of disgruntled students determine the fate of a teacher?

    There is a larger problem here than having to deal with catering to the rich. These “rich, high status” children are, in essence, are destroying their chances for a good education. And with poor educations and unlimited funds, they will probably end up paying their way through college and then into the workplace. They will be the corporation heads that have determined that money, not education, is the American way, and will give themselves, their families, and their friends with money the big bonuses, raises, and opportunities that in turn continue to suppress those who really deserve them. Would she not make just as much of a difference if she continues to stay where and tries to make a stand for an equal and fair education for all?

  17. Jusayeka,

    I never said that AnneB’s students don’t deserve a quality education — but here you make a fatal assumption: I do not assume that their quality education is dependent upon her presence as a teacher. In fact, wealthy school districts rarely have difficulty attracting quality teachers who are willing to put up with the difficulties AnneB describes. I suggested that she teach in a poorer school district because she was whining about the challenges that are (in my opinion) inherent to her demographic.

    I chose to teach in an inner-city school because my presence there routinely made the difference between a student succeeding in life or slipping completely through the cracks. In a wealthier district, I probably would still have made a positive impact, but chances are that if I didn’t…someone else would. For many of my students in Dallas, I and a very small handful of other teachers were all the students had. Period. For some, I was the only one standing between them and lifelong incarceration or worse.

    I think your second paragraph is speculative at best, and bordering on ridiculous. My own experience (I have also taught wealthy students) is that children with good educations and unlimited funds often turn out to be as corrupt and materialistic as students with bad educations and unlimited funds. And conversely, there are wealthy children who go on to lead good and decent lives with both good and bad educations (though not nearly enough). Poor children with good educations can also go either way. But poor children with poor educations are the one category that rarely ever thrive…or live long lifespans.

    So yes, I believe in freedom of speech. AnneB has a right to whine about her students. And her students have a right to say, in a public forum, whatever they feel like saying about her–politely or otherwise. Just don’t expect much sympathy from me when it comes to student/teacher power struggles. There are greater struggles teachers can and should be engaged in among both the rich AND the poor.

  18. Sam — I agree that’s a necessity. Freedom of speech should work both ways. Actually, I seem to remember there is a place for a teacher to reply, but you have to confirm that you actually are the teacher in question first, via a school email.

    This is problematic for me, since I am no longer a teacher at the school where my students have rated me. Fortunately, most of the ratings are good (and the bad ones have horrid enough grammar that I have to agree with them that I must have failed them in some way). Anyhow, I do wish ratemyteachers.com would make it easier for the teachers to chime into the conversation as well. That may be the biggest weakness currently in what is otherwise a good and useful site.

  19. I’ve been bashed over the past two months on ratemyteacher by my fourteen year old students. I’m piloting a new program for them that requires me to go beyond the curriculum. I take home @two hours of grading every night–four hours on the weekend–I meet with students who need help before and after school, and I answer emails up until 10. Know what I get? Insults. Poorly written insults. It does not inspire, but rather shuts me down.

  20. That’s easy, BadTeacherLady: You shouldn’t be visiting ratemyteacher.com if you need inspiration. You are not the intended audience for that website anyhow.

    In the same vein, most students would be totally “shut down” to hear what their teachers say about them in the teacher’s lounge. At least the forum in which the students choose to vent is publicly accessible to all, and not locked behind closed doors.

    WHEN we throw open the doors to the teacher’s lounge, or else give up our right to speak ill of our students (as a free-speech advocate, I would be equally opposed to the latter option, by the way) perhaps then I’ll be more open to complaints about how harsh the big, bad students are to their poor, little teachers.

    Until then, if you want inspiration, maybe try something more realistic (we’re supposed to be the smart ones after all, aren’t we?) like watching “Dead Poet’s Society” instead. That always seemed to work for me…

  21. Mr. Locke, reviewing your comments, I am not quite sure you are hearing what people are saying. I AM the type who is inspired by constructive criticism, as in “could be more organized,”–a comment I received directly from a peer, but not by the words on ratemyteacher, which IS different from the teacher’s lounge: It is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. You also seem to be disregarding teenage psychology (and the following reasons are why I like teaching them, and exactly why ratemyteacher is a reckless site): They are challenging authority, figuring out that their parents are not so perfect–even hating them, which is typical–succumbing to peer pressure more than they will as adults, and they have under-developed regions in their amygdala–the area connected to impulse control. This is psychology, and biology, and just as we charge teens more insurance for when they begin driving, they need more regulation in terms of what is aired in a public forum, e.g. “I got a ‘C’ so she can’t teach,” is pretty common. I’ve heard it mentioned by one to many that rigorous teachers can elicit some pretty awful complaints from students. I resent your comment about what is said in the teacher’s lounge. I do not speak down about my students to my peers, and if I recklessly did, it is not on a site where anyone with internet access could go. When other teachers do, I rely instead on my own rapport with students. In fact, I’m that teacher who finds something wonderful in some of the most “difficult” students, according to others. It’s been a rough year, and I do not need a scarlet letter above my heart to make it worse. As for Dead Poet’s Society, let us not forget that, as much impact as he had, he also didn’t have a job at the end of the film.

  22. Dear self-avowed “BadTeacherLady,”

    If you are looking for inspiration and sympathy in your critique of ratemyteacher.com, let me suggest that this website is probably also not the best place for you to look. I’m sure there are plenty of places where other teachers will commiserate with you on that issue.

    Beginning with your last point about Dead Poet’s Society, I personally would rather be an unemployed teacher who has remained true to his ideals regarding freedom of expression than one who has a job at the cost of those ideals. Fortunately, I don’t think this case quite rises to that level.

    I am quite aware of the nature of the preceding comments, and I have had more than enough psychology courses in my undergraduate and graduate studies to be content in my understanding of adolescent motivation for posting comments in a public forum.

    You, on the other hand, seem to have missed *my* point about the difference between the teacher’s lounge and the internet. It is precisely the “open to the public” part that, in my estimate, makes ratemyteacher.com a more fair and valid forum than the closed doors of the teacher’s lounge. As a teacher, you have an opportunity to read what is said about you, and, per the site’s policies, respond. Students do not have the same opportunity to hear and respond to criticisms of them made in the teacher’s lounge.

    And no, I do *not* agree with the condescending and flawed logic, however widespread it may be, that because of their developmental stage, teenagers require “more regulation.” If this regulation comes without their permission or input, then it is an abrogation of freedom, plain and simple. We, as a society, sometimes collectively agree to limit certain freedoms for the greater good, but this is done by the consent of the governed through the electoral process. Adolescents do not have a vote in our electoral process, and this is actually a relatively recent development in the history of civilization. In most ancient cultures, one was considered a full, participating (and voting) member of society as soon as one was able to biologically reproduce (which clearly, our high school students are able to do).

    And if you’re breaking out the psychological stage theory of Erikson in order to justify depriving adolescents of their freedom, then let’s remember that stages of psychological development don’t end at adolescence. Middle-aged teachers have crises of their own to deal with, and we do not limit their freedoms without their consent because of this.

    Granted, I do not personally know you, BadTeacherLady, so you are correct that I don’t know how you comport yourself in the teacher’s lounge. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are a phenomenal teacher who always treats her students with respect. But I also suspect that like most teachers, the primary difference between you and your students is this: They are required by law (often against their will) to be in your classroom. You, on the other hand, are not required by any law to be a teacher, to teach in your particular school, and by extension participate in the curriculum program that seems to have caused you (and your students) so much woe.

    In other words, you have basic freedoms they lack. So perhaps don’t cast aspersions on the paltry freedoms they take for themselves in a public internet forum, even if you think they are misguided, poorly worded, or insensitive. To me, that’s kind of like the rich man in a mansion complaining to the poor homeless man that his house is too expensive.

    I doubt you’ll get much sympathy from your students on this issue, and I stand resolutely in their camp as well.

  23. This is quite the conversation I’ve stumbled across. Do forgive my occasionally horrible spelling, shortcuts, and punctuation.. Correct me if you must, Either way it doesn’t matter to me. You know the saying “What doesn’t kill us, Makes us stronger” whether it makes us stronger physically or mentally is up to us and it’s never truly been my strong suit when it comes to typing up blogs or even term papers. Anyhow, moving on.

    Mr. Locke, Neal Locke, may I ask at what range was your teaching? High school, middle school? There is a variety of possibilities and I’d like to know. I am, currently, an 18 year old senior high school student writing an arguementative paper on “Should be able to rate their teacher” and I came across this and I’d like to know whatever it is your willing to share with me. You seem like a very interesting person, let alone a very good teacher. But of course this is just me going off of what I’ve read in these conversations on this site of yours.

    anyhow, my class is ending in one minute and I was researching while I was moving about your website here and thought I’d leave a message. Do enjoy the rest of your day or night and even the weekend. Lol. G’day to you. Do reply when you can. Later.

  24. Tcarver — thanks for your interest! It has indeed been an interesting (and rather unexpected) conversation springing up around this blog post. To answer your question, I taught at the high school level, English literature and language, primarily 9th grade (both regular and Pre-AP). I also taught Creative Writing for a number of years, and coached our school’s Academic Decathlon / Speech & Debate Team.

    Please feel free to contact me with any other questions, and I wish you success in your research and writing.

    Oh, and also, please note that per the website’s licensing agreement (see “licensing” link in footer) you are completely free to use/copy/reproduce any information you find here for your paper (or anything else), including anything anyone has said in the comments to this post. Enjoy!

  25. Lol, I don’t know if it’s an off thing to do but I about jumped out of my chair when you replied back. It is of a strong interest to me when someone with such an open mind and multiple veiws to such topics is willing (and quite polite when going about it) replies back to me. Haha, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just one of those people that get excited over the little things.

    Anyhow, I do appreciate your replying back.

    It seems like what I’m getting from your reply is that you know your stuff when it comes to literature. It would have been great if I had had you as my english teacher during one of my four years in high school because you have such a voice on such a basic subject such as RMT, I’d have loved to personally hear your opinions on alot of the wide topics we’ve spoken about over these few yet long and interesting years. I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed my english teachers over these years but you seem like someone I could sit down and have a true serious conversation with over a broad variety of topics, yes I can do that with my current english teachers and even other teachers that teach other studies, but I guess it isn’t till you sit down and actually consider talking to a teacher (or any person really) when you realize there is more to a person that meets the eye. And that is something many people don’t consider anymore. Do forgive my rambling, Lol, as sad as it may sounds I honestly would like to talk to you about more things that just RMT since I’ve sat down and given it some time to read over your replies to everyone elses comments.

    As sad as it is for myself to say this, my grades have been slipping

    I hope it isn’t inappropriate to ask but is there a different way to contact you other than just this blog? If that was infact inappropriate do ingore the fact that I asked and if it wasn’t and you don’t mind telling me, I’d like to start, if not continue, our conversation.

    On another note, it is as I said, We’re writing an arguementative paper over what ever topic we’d like. To begin with, I was going to write a paper based upon “The Merging of State and Religion One Again – Could It Succeed?” Of course that is somewhat of a long title but that isn’t the point, The point is that it was to broad of a subject for me to be writing on. Of course, I believe if I had put enough effort into it I could possible “Scratch The Surface” but I’d have to narrow it down in the process so I began to do a little more research on the most written topics when dealing with arguementatives and found “Should students be allowed to grade their teachers?” Now, If you would rather talk to me about this in a more descrete link/blog or messenger of some sort that is fine, or if you find this specific blog of yours best suited for it that is fine as well but either way it goes I would like to know your opinion on it as a broad topic within itself. Or would you rather me narrow it down? Currently I am still wondering what sort of questions I should be asking people for interveiws on such a topic but I hope talking with you could possibly help me out and allow me to achieve my goal of finding the right questions to ask.

    And to wrap this post up for now, I’d like to thank you for the 3rd and last time for replying to my comment. Lol. Oh, And if you don’t mind, I enjoy writing poetry and was also wondering if you could possibly read a few of my poems and tell me what you think about them, Correct what needs correcting, or whatever else needs to be done to them? If not, thats alright because I don’t intend on taking up any of your time. Just a simple question.

    Have a good weekend!

    -Tcarver

  26. Tcarver,

    If you check out the “About” page on this blog, there are a variety of web spaces listed where we can connect if you’d like. I do have to add the caveat that since I’m back in school now as a full-time graduate student, my time is more limited than I’d like. But I’m certainly always willing to carry on a conversation, especially on subjects I’m passionate about.

  27. Well, I’ve seen your about me and I thank you for reminding me that you had one. Lol, I was more focused on the page at hand rather than the links. Sorry I haven’t replied sooner but as a student myself, be it high school or college, we all have business to take care of. Correct? Though I do admit that I kinda slacked over my recent spring break.

    Anyhow, I do see that you have facebook and things of that nature but I was wondering if you had something more along the lines of MSN or yahoo? Maybe Aim? Any sort of instant messenger? Though I don’t spend alot of time on the computer as I’d like to when at home, I do keep my computer up and running incase I were to want or need to contact someone without pause. If you don’t, that is alright and if you do but don’t have the time to deal with it that is just as fine.. But if you do and have good access to it and wouldn’t mind giving it out, I’d greatly appreciate it. If I may have blindly over looked it on the “About Me”, Forgive my insolence or mistake I am in somewhat of a rush at the moment and just wanted to know if you had more of a DIRECT contact.

    Have a good day, Hope you learn alot and enjoy yourself.

    – Tcarver

  28. I realize that I’m entering this conversation a little bit late, but I thought that my input as a junior in high school could be a welcome addition to the above discourse. I use ratemyteacher.com as a resource to both plan my classes and gauge what my scholastic experience will be during the school year. I go to a large private school in Atlanta and have found the reviews to be of two categories – ridiculously incorrect and inappropriate, or thoughtful and honest. I would say that reviews like “Mr. D is da BOMB! we be watchin movies all the time” to be as generally unhelpful as the scathing criticisms also sometimes found on the site.
    However, being in a group of mainly upper-middle class, privileged (though only about 50% white) students who get to pick their classes and most of the time have some control over who their teacher will be reduced the number of this first category of reviews. What I have noticed in the complaints issued by teachers is that they fail to notice the constructive criticism. Most of the bad reviews I’ve read try not to be overtly insulting. While students do try to be funny, it is sometimes true that a teacher is a dinosaur and needs to retire because they’ve been using the same transparencies for 50 years, or that a teacher has favorites amongst pretty girls and popular boys more than hardworking (but less genetically fortunate) students. Also, realize that whether or not it’s on an organized website, students will *always* say these things about you, whether in the hallways or on facebook, discussing teachers for next year.
    I feel that I have been lucky to have this resource because it has allowed me to avoid not the difficult teachers (because all of the honors level or ap courses that I am taking are similarly difficult) but the teachers’ whose educational style is incompatible with my learning style.
    I do wish that there was a *ratemystudents.com* because I would sometimes like to know what my teachers think of me. I would also like to apologize for the immaturity of some of my peers, but we use ratemyteacher.com for us. We use it to help other students, not so that teachers can see what we think of them. You have to remember that RMT is a resource for students. If we wanted you to change something about your teaching, we would tell you ourselves, not rely on an anonymous rating service directed at students.

  29. Emmeline,

    Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation, belated or not. You prove by your eloquent and well-considered comments that reasonable, intelligent students are among RMT users. This alone should give critics of the website pause, and hopefully encourage them to find constructive ways to engage with students in a web2.0 world, rather than merely bemoaning inevitable change.

    I think you are absolutely right in your analysis of helpful vs. not-so-helpful reviews. Evaluating the responses in those utilitarian terms, as opposed to the more judgment-oriented words teachers often use, like “good” or “bad” is in itself a “helpful” approach, and preserves the right of all students to voice their opinions (even the unhelpful ones).

    My confession to you is that since I’ve returned to school to do graduate work, I’ve also found the website “ratemyprofessors.com” to be useful along the same lines you point out.

    Ratemystudents.com? Now that would certainly be an interesting idea…Of course, for it to actually work, we teachers would need at least three days of staff development training, two subcommittees to establish proper guidelines, and the oversight of a teacher’s union to make sure everything was done right…

    *mostly* kidding 🙂

  30. Mr. Locke, the notion of free speech was never meant to include that anyone has the right to say anything at anytime, otherwise libel and slander laws would be unconstitutional. Have you read the amendment?

    By the way, RMT states that they review comments before they are posted. This is untrue. I have seen comments made by students that are racially discriminatory and some claiming the teacher raped them. This is your ideal forum for free speech?

    As I see it, sites the like of RMT are for people who know how to filter their speech and have a sense of responsibility. Many of the students who use the site have neither and so what you have is a huge gossip arena at the expense of another person. There are other methods for a student to complain about a teacher by going through the proper channels; school administration or parents.

    Having a “ratemystudent” forum is unnecessary and unprofessional. We have a grading system with a conduct mark. That gives them lots of information. If I want to give them advice I can do it face-to-face or I can email them. If they want more information, they can ask me or email me which they often do.

  31. Tomag,

    I categorically reject any insinuation that free speech in a public forum is only a right for “responsible” people, whether that was your intended argument or not (it certainly veers dangerously close).

    Not only have I read the Bill of Rights, I have taught it, and I think you make a significant error in conflating the 1st amendment with slander and libel. The first amendment itself places no limitations on free speech whatsoever. It’s pretty brief, actually.

    Furthermore, the Supreme Court does not use the 1st Amendment to rule in libel cases, traditionally deferring these to states. They have, however, frequently ruled against plaintiffs that use libel incorrectly (as you do here) to protect against speech that is “racially discriminatory.”

    For speech to rise to the level of slander or libel, it must be proven false, among other criteria. Therefore a student is just as entitled to accuse a teacher of rape in a public forum as the teacher is entitled to defend himself or herself against such a claim when it is made. And I can verify that the feature on RMT that allows anyone to respond to a rating or comment actually does work. I have used it several times myself.

    The Communications Decency Act of 1996 also gives broad protection to public internet forums and comments posted on them by anonymous users, making it highly unlikely that most entries on RMT could ever legitimately be considered libel in a US court of law.

    As far as I know, RMT makes no such claim to review comments before they are posted. In fact, their terms of service (under “legal”) clearly state otherwise:

    “RMT.com has no obligation to monitor you or any other user’s use of the Site, and currently does not perform such monitoring.”

    Nor should they. Gossip is not illegal, and a large number of the reviews of teachers are quite eloquent and well-reasoned. To limit the “responsible” reviews on the basis of those that you or other teachers personally feel are irresponsible…would in itself be irresponsible.

    The “proper channels” you refer to for a student to complain about a teacher are ones created by teachers and administrators, and therefore inherently suspect. I have seen forward-thinking schools cede authority to student-elected judicatory panels to address this, but this is exceedingly rare, and often the panels are not vested with enough autonomy.

    You are correct that, in most grading systems, teachers do already have a system by which they can rate students. I merely argue that it would be fully within the rights of teachers to do such a thing — not whether it would be “professional” or “necessary.” In my opinion, it would be neither, but for a different reason entirely: Teachers who whine about poor ratings and comments RateMyTeacher.com are on the wrong side of the power structure to be claiming special status as “victims.”

  32. Whew! I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this blog post but, after reading the initial blog entry and every word of the 36 responses, I feel compelled to say that I found the entire discourse rather entertaining. That’s it. Now I need to get back to whatever it was I was originally searching for via Google.

  33. I am a former teacher and years ago I visited the site but having stumbled on this website I returned to RateMyTeacher.com. It is obvious that this site could be padded with good or bad rating. It is sad if someone submits fake or vindictive ratings.

  34. This is a very interesting discussion about freedom and speech and over-dependence on reading Web sites like RMT. I am also a teacher (I teach college, though), and our counterpart Web site is Rate My Professor, which is as subjective and entertaining as RMT. It’s really just a way for students to “get back” at teachers they dislike because they feel powerless. While students have the right to express their views (don’t we as educators encourage them to do so?), we also have the right to disregard them. One of my favorite quotes is from Hubert Humphrey:

    “The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”

  35. Haha, it feels as if it has been forever since I last visited this website. Mr. Locke, I greatly appreciate the quick conversation we had over this post about my paper. As disappointing as it is for me to say this, I was not able to turn in the paper I was writing over this topic. Instead I became enveloped in other work and had to go without the grade for that paper which did me more harm than good. Thankfully, I’ve graduated High School with a diploma and all and shall continue my education after gaining and maintaining a small job for a decent period of time. I hope all is well with you and your studies.

  36. I read through many of the posts and found that many teachers are voicing that their students are not providing quality feedback and as a result, teachers are finding it difficult to objectively gauge their performance in the classroom. I think by now we have established that it is completely legal for students to submit their “critiques” on RMT, so I hope this does not come as a surprise: when people (this includes your students) are able to post anonymously, they feel a sense of liberation to say whatever they want. Yes, sometimes it hurts to read the spiteful things that students think, but to be honest your students will write something insulting, have a few giggles at your expense, and then they move on with their lives. You on the other hand, read what was posted, fret over your reputation, cry a little when no one is looking, and then direct energy towards finding a way to reclaim your self-worth.
    I am quite frankly disappointed to read that teachers have opted to create a cleavage between themselves and their students. Take this opportunity to create a new environment in your classroom. Address your students in class and tell them of your desire to hear what they have to say. Tell them that you are open to positive or negative feedback and those constructive responses are necessary for you to refine your class. In fact, ask for feedback several times throughout the year so that students get a sense that their feedback could possibly benefit them. Perhaps several students make a suggestion that more visual aids would enhance their ability to understand the material. Lo and behold, you start incorporating more visuals into your lectures and now you’ve just made learning a little easier for a few of your students.
    I find it interesting that many of you are surprised to find what is posted on RMT. You were aware that you would be teaching teenagers when you decided to teach at a high school, right?

  37. In fairness, teachers should start a website called, Rate My Student, wherein teachers can anonymously give their real opinions about their students. Now that would be interesting.

  38. I know a Spanish teacher in my school that rates himself every day and flags the ratings where students tell the truth about how they don’t learn anything in his class. What a loser!

  39. I’m a college student, and use RateMyProfessor. However, I don’t take the ratings at face value. I will read the detailed ratings of every potential professor, in order to better gauge the quality of both the ratings and those being rated. For example, there have been several occasions where I elected to take the class of a professor with a lower rating after such an analysis. When a professor has an overall low rating, but the text of the lower ratings are rather simplistic and caustic (e.g. “OMG! This class was HAAARD!! I HATED THIS GUY!”), I had a good reason to question the veracity of the complaints. On the other hand, some of the professors with negative reviews of the aforementioned quality often had well worded positive ratings that included such descriptions as “challenging” and “helpful.”

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that, while some professors (and teachers, to make the distinction implied by the names of the sites) are subjected to a great deal of written abuse, one can infer as much from the quality of the ratings as one can from the actual content of the ratings. As such, taking such mindless abuse seriously is only giving it power which it would not otherwise wield. Likewise, the suggestion of “rating” students in kind simply indicates that the maturity of the teacher is on par with the maturity of those being taught, a concept that I would find far more insulting than anything a student could possibly say (at least in a high school setting).

    I would like to mention that the Communications Decency Act only protects the hosting website from liability for the content of posts by independent contributors (Section 230). The contributors themselves (in this case the students) could still be liable for libel (which is fun to say). That is to say, one couldn’t sue RateMyTeacher, but could conceivably take legal action against the raters. That being said, any attempt at legal action would be an uphill battle, given the anonymity and presumable minority of the raters. At the same time, any such attempts would undoubtedly draw more attention to the offending ratings than they ever would have received otherwise (do an internet search for the “Streisand Effect” for more information). As a standard disclaimer, I would like to point out that I am not a lawyer; this is merely my interpretation of the situation and should not be considered legal advice.

    Finally, if you MUST read your own ratings, bear in mind that they were written by high school students. A brief reflection of yourself, your actions and maturity level at that age should prompt a fit of nostalgia and occasional mortification. The latter feeling is more pertinent here; the raters are not yet adults, and their opinions should be considered with that qualification. If you really want feedback, put an anonymous comment box somewhere where students can access it, and point it out to them. The anonymity should prompt truthful evaluation, but the lack of complete removal from the school setting should filter out much of the hurtful, useless commentary. It’s just a thought.

  40. I just enjoyed a few years of comments in one night. It has been a pleasure. Mr. Locke, I can only imagine how wonderful you were as a Speech and Debate Coach. I believe you won every round in this discussion. I only wonder if you are a published author and a lawyer in addition to a teacher and graduate student. If so, please advertise. I would love to read more of your work. Your answers were thought provoking and well stated. I found this string after reading my first “bad” rating on RMT. I am one who “goes the extra mile” for all of my students and I took the rating to heart. I, like many others, started to focus on the negatives of RMT. I have been swayed by this discussion. Thank you.

  41. I’m sitting in a computer lab at the local community college. I was searching for the “rate my professor” website getting ready to register for classes and found this.

    My question is, “Why are some teachers fighting it?” If a student is poking fun at your physical appearance, ignore it. You can’t do anything about it. Well, maybe you can try masking it.

    If a student is complaining about the workload, re-evaluate your assignments.

    (long example coming up)

    As someone fond of learning, constantly searching for answers to the ever growing list of questions, I was always signing up for the advanced classes. When I was in elementary, I was granted the privilege of being in the Gifted and Talented program. I was dissapointed. They told me it would rid me of my boredom of the monotonous learning experience. I thought I was going to be delving deeper into concepts. I was wrong. If the regular class assignment was to do 20 math problems, we were given 60 problems of the same kind. What does that do? Even though we would finish at the same time, we were no further ahead than the regualar students. We just did more, when we could have been finishing the curriculum sooner and getting a head start on next year’s material.

    My point is this: we all forget to listen. We get used to doing things a certain way and choose to ignore the alternatives. My father says I do this because I’m lazy, but I’m always looking for new ways of doing things. For example, we used to live on a ranch. One day we bought some calves. They were still too young to leave the mother and needed to be bottle fed their milk. Let me tell you, it was a fight for my life whenever it was my turn. So I decided to make a rope net for the bottles and hang them off of a mesquite tree. When it was feeding time, I would place the bottles in the net and the calves then had to fight the tree, instead of me fighting them.

    So, embrace it or ignore it. Don’t let it hinder you.

  42. Maybe its time for the teachers to be the students and learn something from this and from the Rate My Teacher site. Looks like its working. Teachers now know what are children go through. Looks like you have been graded.

  43. Here is the thing, I am a student and feel like rate my teacher is not dumb. How do any of the teachers know how the students feel and for you to say that our opinions don’t matter upsets me because there was one teacher who made my elementary life miserable and I would go home everday having low esteem and crying because of certain comments said to me and actually I hope she reads a comment I posted about her because I hope she feels as miserable as I do. So the point is no of the teachers know how we feel and don’t go and say our comments don’t matter because they do to us.

  44. To “rather left unsaid,”

    I hope you don’t think I’ve said your opinions don’t matter — that may be true of some of the teachers who have commented on this blog, but their views don’t necessarily reflect my own (and it’s my blog). I believe that student opinions do matter. Actually, I had an experience very similar to your own in a math class when I was in middle school. I still struggle with perceptions of myself as being “bad in math” because of the comments of one particular teacher — which might have something to do with my eventual decision to study English and become an English teacher 😉

    Anyhow, I do have to disagree with you on one point: You said you hope your teacher reads your comment because you “hope she feels as miserable as I do.” If people treat us badly, and we treat them badly in return (or hope for them to suffer), the world will quickly become a miserable, miserable place. Let me try something different. As a former teacher, I will speak on behalf of my profession (whether I’m qualified to or not) and apologize to you for the treatment you suffered at the hands of your elementary school teacher. That was wrong of her, and you deserved to be treated better.

    Now, my hope for you is that you can find it in yourself to forgive, move on, and in turn treat everyone you meet (even people who have mistreated you) with the basic love, respect, and dignity that all human beings ought to be entitled to.

    As for Ratemyteacher.com, if it has served as a positive outlet for you to vent your honest frustration at the way you were treated, so be it, and that’s a good thing. But please be careful not to use it as a way to lash out in anger against someone–while you certainly have that right, it likely won’t help you or the teacher in the long run.

    Good luck, and please know that your opinions matter on this blog, and to me!

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