By David McDaniels
“I’ll give the movie a B. That shirt, eh it’s about a 4.” It seems that everything is graded, especially now in our competitive, success driven lives. Well, that is almost everything. The one person in a child’s life that is responsible for their most important grades are teachers. Teachers hand out grades daily. I’m sure every student reading this has been graded today. This poses the following question: if teachers are constantly grading students, should students be allowed to do the same?
This idea was sparked by a harmless internet search to determine who is the most popular teacher in our school. Then I found “Rate My Teachers” and many other sites grading teachers from performance to looks. This seemingly harmless site may not be that. Teachers, although older than their students, are not exempt from the cruel reality of the internet. As Isabelle Ilan, a tenth grader here at Byram, said,”Kids write things that aren’t necessarily true because they are hidden by a screen.” This is simply a form of cyberbullying. Nolan Sanders painted a picture in which he said that it is if “we had website to write unfiltered reviews of kids in our grade, it wouldn’t go well.” Teachers are aware of this as well. Mr. Hubbs an English teacher said he was aware of these sites. He went on to say, “It is a slippery slope. A harmless review can turn into a lot more, quickly.” However, there are those that use this website just as a way to get basic information about a teacher to know who they are meeting. It can be a useful tool. The problem is how it is used.
Further into the idea of students grading teachers is the idea of actual grades. The topic of tenure, a delicate one, in which teachers are granted a good amount of protection after a certain amount of years plays in as well. In some rare cases students grading teachers can serve as an alert system to administrators about a teacher’s performance. John Trongone, a freshman here, believes that students should grade teachers after the year for review because, ”it can influence teachers not performing well to be nicer and better overall.” This is an extreme view however. Garrett Bokel feels that a middle ground could be reached. He said,”Kids can go talk to guidance after the year and just discuss the teacher.” They can suggest improvement or give compliments. This can lead to positive improvements without the threat of consequences. This still has its issues as students may be biased based on feelings toward a teacher or the grades they received.
It is clearly a complicated issue. Both teachers and students want the best for the students. Harmless online reviews can be okay, but at the point of hate and lies it has clearly gone too far. A teacher has dedicated their life to educate the youth and to have moody teens determining their livelihood is simply unfair. Feedback is always useful so a compromise as always is needed. So as I closed out of Rate My Teachers I realized that many of these opinions were simply crazy. One review I read was, “ I told her I would show up to class then hide behind the stairs and watch netflix!” This doesn’t seem like it is an issue of a poor teacher. Seeing these reports what I suggest is an idea similar to Garrett’s idea. I believe that students should either speak to a guidance counselor or have to write a letter to the teacher after the year. In this letter it could include a thank you as well as what the student believes was good and bad about the class, as suggestions. In regard to the websites they will never go away but as Mr. Hubbs said they can cause students to, “walk into a new classroom with a preconceived bias.” This is why there needs to be a movement to de-legitimize these websites and to be seen for what they are. Disgruntled students are those most likely to log on. Despite me disagreeing with these sites they made a good choice with Mr. Hubbs as number one.