In all facets of life, I have come to realize that there exists a cast of characters that people love (firemen, sports heroes, and office secretaries) and a cast of individuals that people unnaturally dislike (policemen, referees, and teachers). This does not mean that everybody feels the same way, but the line is usually drawn between protagonist and antagonist. Think about any movie you have recently viewed and ask yourself how these careers are cast by movie directors and producers. The policeman, often enough, is villanized, the referee is wrong, and the teacher is annoying and droning. Meanwhile, Michael Jordan wannabes and firemen are played by successful actors like Sylvester Stallone. See the defining line now?
A website known as www.ratemyteachers.com looks to make this line even more defined as it relates to the teaching profession. Upon registration, students and parents can enter the state of residence, a school’s name, and an instructor and provide feedback on their teacher. If the teacher’s name has not already been entered, additions to the list can be added by the parent or student. Supposedly, written feedback regarding particular teachers is reviewed before added to the site. Comments left regarding a teacher that is extremely profane or disrespectful are never entered into the website.
If they so choose, schools can “opt-out” of being placed on www.ratemyteachers.com and be added, unceremoniously, to the “Hall of Shame.” This list consists only of schools that wish not to be “glorified” on the site. The very notion of calling this list “Hall of Shame” appears disrespectful at best.
To the common citizen, it appears that www.ratemyteachers.com is doing a great service to any community. Teachers are rated on a scale of one to five on factors including easiness, helpfulness, creativity, and popularity. It brings the word-of-mouth factor into the realm of cyber-space and almost seems to invite gossiping between former students and parents. However, a more dubious factor should be added to the proverbial equation.
Upon reflecting on the anti-heroes of the United States, teachers seem to unnecessarily receive a bad rap. Other career-minded individuals smirk and gripe about how educators receive a large summer break and how teachers often complain about lower wages. www.ratemyteachers.com almost serves to feed on the action of hating educators. True, positive comments often promote certain teachers and their instructional capabilities, and many receive the happy sunglass-spectacled emoticon that tells viewers “this teacher is cool.” But what happens to teachers who have their hearts in the right place and remain strict disciplinarians, doling out assignments that challenge a student? More often than not, these teachers get a frowny face and receive lambasting to the highest degree by disgruntled students and parents who feel an educator is “not fair or “too hard.”
As a fellow educator, I have been in the biz, so to speak, for quite some time. I have received many positive letters of thank-you from parents and students alike, but have yet to be “inducted” into the ranks of www.ratemyteachers.com. I find this to be a good thing. In my profession, it is proper for a student to enter a class with no negative thoughts about what he or she reads regarding a certain teacher on a certain website. Word-of-mouth from former students or older brothers or sisters carry enough weight already. Allowing a new student to form their own opinions at any age is far more valuable as a means of developing judgment than trusting the typed-up words of a student five years previous.
And in what other profession would one find a site like this? Upon careful investigation, I have yet to discover a website aptly named www.ratemylawyer.com or www.ratemyextremelylatemailman.com. Or, from an educators perspective, can we possibly float the idea of www.ratemystudents.com or www.parentalnightmares.com? It is really no fun playing the role of antagonist when most of these villanized careers are to service others and their needs. Perhaps the good people of wwwratemyteachers.com and those that post on this site should consider the sacrifice of educators and give all of them a well-deserved smiley face 5 out of 5 rating.