Once upon a time, if you were a college professor, you had only a handful of ways of knowing what your students thought of you. You handed out course evaluations, perhaps spoke with a student, or a student relayed praise and concern through the department head and you discussed the issue. It just didn't take much to monitor your professorial reputation.
The Internet has changed everything. Now websites actively rank professors as students weigh in anonymously online, and some websites even find and release course evaluations. It's good for collecting data about your performance, but bad in the sense that disgruntled students can attempt to wreck your reputation without your even knowing about it.
What's an educator to do? Here's how to monitor a professor's reputation while using the feedback to improve.
Make Sure Students Can Share Concerns Directly and Anonymously
Many colleges have it as part of the code of conduct that a student can bring reasonable concerns to the professor without fear of retribution. However, it's unlikely that students will trust the code of conduct. Establish a way to share feedback, incorporated into the syllabus, and let students know that they can, and should, come see you first if they have any concerns.
Often what you see on professor ranking sites are the things students feel they can't tell you directly. Give them the ability to do that and you'll find it improving your professorial reputation.
Treat Concerns Fairly and Equally
Even if a student or a parent has a minor concern, simply demonstrating that you're listening and paying attention can go a long way towards keeping a good reputation as a professor. If you can't meet the request of a student, make sure that you explain why and that it's not personal, but generally a matter of fairness to the entire class or university policy. If you can directly address the issue, so much the better.
Not everyone will be happy with the outcome, but if they understand you listened, then at least they'll leave your office on good terms.
Bookmarks are useful in real life and as metaphors.
Monitor Professor Ranking Sites
Part of monitoring a professor's reputation is keeping an eye on professor ranking sites. Remember that as these sites are anonymous, you might be surprised by some of the things you see. These sites can go well beyond the typical student evaluation, praising or, more generally, criticizing everything from your public speaking skills to your fashion choices. The key point is to not take it personally. Filter out the unprofessional content and focus on points you can improve in class.
Take Any Serious Concerns to The Head of the Department
In the case of college educators, it's generally not a good idea to reply personally. It can be difficult for students to sort you, the person, from you, the representative of their college. Instead of replying directly to slanderous accusations or blatantly titled replies, especially ones where you're fairly sure you know who the miscreant may be, speak to your department head about the issue. Keeping your good professorial reputation will involve knowing when to speak to the school and when to let comments go.
Monitoring a professor's reputation can be a difficult task, but ReputationDefender can help. We can teach you valuable social media strategies to connect in a professional way with students and offer powerful tools to control slander. Don't leave your good name up to professor ranking sites. Call ReputationDefender and take control.