Posts Tagged ‘policies’

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When Class Doesn’t Meet

posted: 3.17.15 by Traci Gardner

What do you do when a class you are teaching has to be cancelled at the last minute? Maybe you are sick or your car’s battery is dead. Perhaps you are dealing with a family emergency or a foot of snow. Even the best planners among us sometimes find at the last minute that we cannot (or should not) meet students in the classroom. So how do you let students know? [read more]

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Categories: Classroom Challenges and Solutions, Teaching Advice, Traci Gardner
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Constantly Rewriting

posted: 2.21.14 by Traci Gardner

Last semester, I blocked out four writing projects for the courses I was teaching. Students did extensive writing in class. They shared rough drafts with peers for feedback, and eventually their work was turned in with a reflective statement on the decisions that they had made as they worked. [read more]

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My Advice to Students

posted: 12.10.13 by Traci Gardner

With the semester nearly over here at Virginia Tech, I keep thinking about what will happen when the first-year writing students I am teaching move on to the second semester of the course and a new teacher. I worry about both whether they are prepared and how I can make that transition easier for them. [read more]

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5 things I do with email

posted: 2.28.08 by Barclay Barrios

About 90% of my job as Director of Writing Programs involves writing and responding to emails. In fact, I answer so much email for a living that my friends know better than to email me—I rarely have the energy to answer emails at home. For me, email is both boon and bane. It’s also ineluctable, and so I’ve given a lot of thought to the role I want it to play in my teaching. Here are some of the practices I use to make it more boon than bane:

1. Create clear email policies

When I am orienting our new teachers, I stress the importance of good email hygiene, which includes a clear statement of email policies on their syllabi. For starters, I encourage them all to separate personal and work email by using their university email address for teaching and a separate email account for personal email. Otherwise, they’re going to be confronted with student emails when they really want to be answering an email from their best friend. Then, I ask them to include information on their syllabus about accepting work through email (I will do so only if the student has made arrangements with me in advance and only if a paper copy is provided the next class) and the times they check email (I only do so while in the office and never on weekends). Setting these boundaries from the start guards sanity while providing students reasonable electronic access to you.

2. Student email addresses

In my business and technical writing classes, I often discuss the importance of a professional email address. Many students will create resumes that include a personal email address that may create a poor impression on future employers. In order to help students realize the potential damage an informal email address can do to their future careers, ask them to research the problem on the Web—a search for “unprofessional email address” is a good start. Have them bring in examples of inappropriate email addresses, which can generate a lot of laughs in class, but then also have students alone or in collaborative groups create a list of resources for free email or tutorials on setting up a new email account.

3. Audience awareness in email

We’ve probably all received email from students with informal syntax, grammar, and spelling. Have students review the material in their handbooks on audience, tone, and (if available) electronic correspondence. Bring in some examples of these emails (with identifying information removed) to use in a discussion about these issues. Work with your students to determine the appropriate tone to use in emails to you but also use this as an opportunity to discuss writing to an audience in general.

4. Spam revisions

One really fun way to work on issues of grammar is to bring in some examples of email spam for students to revise. For homework or in small groups in class, ask students to first identify any errors in the spam and then to revise it.

5. Informal peer groups

Email is a quick and easy way for students to work and collaborate outside of class. Assign students to email peer groups, having all members of the group trade email addresses. Then have students email small portions of their drafts to each other over the course of an assignment—perhaps just the introduction. Working through email creates a peer group that can be available as students work on their drafts; sending only small pieces of the paper keeps the workload manageable and targeted.

How does email impact your teaching? Do you use it in class?

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Business Writing, Revising, Teaching Advice, Teaching with Technology
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Section Intro: Professional Development & Service

posted: 6.1.07 by archived

Professional Development and Service is, in many ways, an opaque and unclear concept. It is exactly the kind of “shadow work” which Ivan Illich critiques in a book of the same name: it is work which is expected to be performed, but there is no direct compensation for the work. These are the tasks adjuncts are expected to engage in in order to be considered professionally developing in our careers and in our field. Of course this begs for critique and discussion; however, it is unlikely that this complex and convoluted system of opaque expectations and silence will change at any time in the short term.

Complicating matters further is that numerous institutions have different policies and expectations regarding their adjuncts. Some encourage adjuncts to participate and welcome their input; others encourage participation, but it is only the symbolism which matters; others do not even bother to encourage adjuncts, often criticizing or attacking them for thinking they belong at the same table as tenured faculty. What is an adjunct to do when they are interviewed and asked about their professional development and service to their institution when doing so is either not permitted, comes at the cost of losing another part-time gig, or their contributions are tacitly ignored? There is no single simple solution. You can never know until you are in the situation–and once you are there, it may well change.

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Categories: Adjunct Advice, Gregory Zobel, Professional Development & Service
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