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In Defense of RateMyTeachers.com

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mhussey_at_TeacherArtExchange
Date: Thu Jul 31 2003 - 17:09:34 PDT


In response to the notes posted in May of 2003 regarding the website
RateMyTeachers.com

ARTICLE AWAITING PUBLICATION BY NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
TEACHERS – WRITTEN AT THEIR REQUEST 6/20/03

 

As the owners / operators of a website that allows the anonymous rating of
middle school through high school teachers, we are frequently asked, “Why
do you do this? Aren’t you doing a disservice to teachers?” Our answer is
a resounding NO. In the public discourse on improving education, we believe
the most important voice is often ignored. For the first time in the
history of public schools, the student is being heard (and certainly not
ignored).

 

Second to a stable upbringing and loving parents, there is nothing more
important to the future success and happiness of an individual than a solid
education. Self-esteem is a product of applying what one has learned
throughout life and seeing results when that knowledge is applied
successfully to day-to-day situations. A truly happy and productive
classroom is one where students are able to successfully learn new concepts
that they may then apply within the constructs of daily life. While
classroom material may or may not be interesting, the student has a much
better opportunity to understand and accept new knowledge if it is
presented in an environment of mutual respect between the teacher and the
student. Administrative reviews of teacher performance can never
substitute for a review coming from someone who interacts daily with that
teacher – the student. If a parent or administrator reviews the ratings on
RateMyTeachers (assuming there is a broad enough sample), they will see
that there is typically a consistency amongst the ratings. Most
importantly, it is often obvious if that teacher has created an environment
of mutual respect.

 

RateMyTeachers started much like other new websites – by ordinary people
with a vision for a better way of doing something. The owners include two
teachers and three college students. An army of over one thousand student
volunteers helps keep the site going on a day by day basis. The purpose of
the site is threefold. First, it is to help facilitate a positive change
in the way parents, students, and teachers alike look at the education
system and therefore to encourage structural changes with regards to school
and teacher choice. Secondly, it is a place for students to have their
opinions validated. We all like to be heard, especially when it comes to
life issues such as our education. Opponents of the website clearly
believe that their students are not astute enough to form a valid opinion.
Interestingly, about 60% of the ratings on the website are favorable. Based
on the emails we receive, it is obvious that students using the website
have a keen interest in their education. If a student takes the time to
rate the performance of their teacher, then they do care about the quality
of their daily education experience. This interest is well documented by
the fact that over 2,100,000 ratings for 325,000 teachers at 18,200 schools
have been posted since the site opened in August 2001. This phenomenal and
exponential growth has occurred by word of mouth, despite an advertising
budget of zero dollars. Lastly, RateMyTeachers is a useful resource to
the teacher who is open and self-assured enough to face the opinions of
their customers, i.e. students. Every teacher wants to be respected by his
or her students, and every teacher entered this profession in order to help
students develop as individuals. By studying their ratings, the teacher
can often adjust their methods, helping create that environment of mutual
respect, whereby their knowledge will translate more effectively to the
mind of the student. A common email from progressive teachers tells us how
they were able to connect better with their students after reading their
comments on the site and adjusting their approach in the classroom. Every
day we receive like emails, leaving no doubt that we are doing the right
thing.

 

We are not suggesting that this website is the perfect solution – but it is
a start. By combining the information contained in online student ratings
with the traditional administrative evaluation, the education system will
move forward into the 21st century, integrating the power of technology
with the power of teaching to improve the experience and value of our
children’s education. The internet is the greatest medium for sharing
information in the history of mankind – that some within the educational
system would want to ignore this resource continues to baffle us. We
encourage all teachers to embrace this information, not fear it.

 

 

Sincerely,

Nancy Davis and Michael Hussey

Co-Founders of RateMyTeachers.com

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