I was walking yesterday with a good friend, and I told her about this web site, one where students can go up and post reviews of teachers. This site has been around for years now, and the reviews go back to about 2001-2002. I used to check it all the time, needing to see what students were saying about me. There would usually be about three or four glowing reviews and then, a bomb. A real screed. Or a one liner: "She sucks." Then there would be other really nice ones, and then something about my clothing.
So what would I focus on? The wonderful comments about my sense of humor, my choice of reading materials, my paper assignments? No. Why would I? No, indeed. I focused on the three nasty little comments and not the twenty good ones. I would mull over them, toss and spin those ideas for days.
Finally, I managed to stop reading the reviews, and I was telling my friend about the site and other things I have just stopped reading on principle, things that draw me in but piss me off, and she said, "Reading those is like self-mutilation."
I nodded, realizing, she is right. Those student reviews--while potentially useful to me, at least the ones not written by students who got bad grades--could help me, but they are really about me hurting myself. What did the student say? I need to read it fifty times to find out. I need to think about if any of it is true. Oh, oh, let me roll in the negative stuff, let me think about it some more. Oh, oh—and then I can click on it again tomorrow, too. I will have to tell a lot of people about it, too, and we can talk and talk and talk about how I am or am not a good teacher. Oh, oh, oh.
I put myself into recovery from that site and from other writing that will put me through the self-mutilation dance. I know that if I start reading it, I will just question myself for reasons not mine. I will read someone else’s idea about me, someone who needs to react, vent, bleed onto the page ideas that I just don’t want. People have feelings and thoughts that might involve me or those I love or things I've worked on, but I don't need to know how they feel. So no. No more clicking for me. My finger might tremble over the title, but I move along little sister.
Another friend of mine once told me that being with her lover was the same kind of self-mutilation type experience, and I think that we all have these spots we are vulnerable, these places we want to go in a revel in. Oh, oh, he or she hurts me. Oh, oh, he or she makes me feel bad, but let me go back one more time. Please? Please!
It’s the dark side, and man, I want the light!
I don’t know how many more steps I have to go in my recovery, but I do know that I’ve done very well, for now, one step at a time.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org