navigatr85 wrote:Me: "It seems like, almost every time I tutor one of Mr Lenhart's students, they're very confused about physics concepts. But then, after working with me, they usually say they understand it much better. I think Mr Lenhart might not be explaining things clearly."
Head: "He's probably doing fine. Students tend to distort the truth about their teachers."
Me: "Yeah, it's possible that they were lying, but I think it'd be good for someone to observe Mr Lenhart's teaching and see what's going on."
Head: "But when someone has served you well for years, you don't just walk into their classroom and start checking on them."
Me: "Well, how do you know he's served you well, if he's never been observed?"
Head: "I've never heard any complaints about him."
Me: "I think the reason you haven't heard any complaints is because you're only here in the daytime. He only teaches evening classes, so most of his students have day jobs, so they aren't here in the daytime."
Head: "These students distort the truth, they lie about their teachers, they cheat on tests. Even if students are saying things like that, don't listen to them, we can't trust them."
I get the impression that she's biased against students and towards teachers.
Then Yakk responded to my post with this:
Yakk wrote:That seems politically very smart. She interacts with the professors, and not the students. The students are transients, have next to no political power, and do not matter to her quality of life to any great extent.
Sending observers into his class will be a headache for her, possibly causing her harm, and possibly make him dislike/distrust her with a personal grudge.
What, exactly, is the upside to your proposal? Even if she wanted to do the proposal, what would be the upside to conspiring with you to do it? That would be politically idiotic.
He's served her well -- he takes a class of students, and doesn't generate complaints. That is her incentive. If she wants to undermine him, she could do what you describe -- heck, even if she wants to bring up teaching quality as an issue for whatever reason, she can do it everywhere. But committing to some 3rd party to investigate him based on flimsy evidence? Politically idiotic.
Doing it because one person noticed that some of his students don't follow what he teaches? I mean, what professor doesn't have a myriad of students that don't understand what he is teaching? It isn't even a useful data point.
Of course she should be biased against students and towards teachers. Her teachers are her colleagues, and hard to replace. Students are transient visitors, and easy to replace.
First, let me say that the college is based on teaching, and not research. None of the instructors do any type of research for the college. In fact, we call ourselves "instructors," and avoid the term "professor," because the term "professor" implies a person who splits his/her time between research and teaching.
After thinking about this for a while, I've realized that, in that original conversation with the head, I wasn't considering the other instructor's emotions. When I suggested this, I had good intentions. My goal was to determine whether or not there were any major flaws in his teaching style, and, if so, suggest improvements to him, and thereby cause his students to be less confused and learn more. But I realize that, even if the intentions are good, any kind of observation could upset him and make him feel insulted. Ideally, he shouldn't feel insulted by that, but I suppose that's just human nature. I, myself, wouldn't be insulted at all if one of the administrators wanted to sit in my class and observe one of my lectures.
So, I would like to ask a question to Yakk, and to anyone else who agrees with his position. Under what circumstances do you think it WOULD be necessary to take action about a teacher who might be doing a bad job? Are there any circumstances? Yakk said that teachers are hard to replace. What if a teacher was doing a bad job and was easy to replace? (In this particular case, he IS easy to replace, because he's an adjunct, and the other adjunct physics teachers have been asking for more classes to teach.) Also, Yakk said that this situation involves filmsy evidence. Can you give me an example of something that you would consider to be strong evidence? Part of my original goal was to acquire additional evidence by observing his lectures, but that's not going to happen.