Hi, I'm Chris Motto writing in tutorial support coordinator.
Hello, I'm Dr. Karen Grella, and I'm the Accessibility Resources Coordinator on the Auburn and Fulton campuses. Today, we're going to talk to you about how to talk to your professors.
As we're going through the first couple of slides, be thinking about what topics or issues might students need to talk about with their professors. Could be a range of different things, and we'll go over them in a second. Be thinking about that. This is a cartoon that I found. I thought it was relevant to the topic. It says I'm a college professor, Jason, you need to ask someone else if you want advice about the real-world. Here is a student coming to talk to his professor about real-world advice. That could be one of the things that you feel like you want to talk about. We'll go through some of those now. There's a variety of different topics that students might want to talk to their professors about. Class material is a big one. Not understanding something, questions about assignments, things like that, grades, that might be a big one. I'd like to talk about my grade. I'd like to talk about where my grade is at, how I can increase my grade, extra credit, all that type of stuff. Clarifications on when something might be due in terms of an assignment attendance. Students might need to talk to the professors about why they've missed class or if they're going to miss class, or just general questions about do you take attendance, things like that. Some students may need to talk to their professors about disability-related accommodations and what goes along with that. We may have students that are athletes, and they need to talk about athletic topics. Maybe they have a game, and they need to talk with their instructors about missing class, things like that. It could also be peer or classmate concerns. That might be another topic. Maybe there's another student in the class, and you are having some concerns or things like that and personal issues. Like our cartoon said, some instructors, that's not the place. Then they'll let you know that. But they'll also point in the right direction. Hopefully have some resources where you can talk about personal issues. That's a brief look at its different general topics. Really, there are three ways that a student can communicate with their professors. There are at least three general ways that we're going to focus on today. The first is email or we have Brightspace. We use Brightspace. Course Messenger in Brightspace, it looks like email. That would be your written communication. In-person, could be before or after class, could be during office hours. But that in-person communication or it could be in-person but through Zoom or another video conferencing platform that could also be before or after class or schedule time. Chris is going to talk to us a little bit about the writing components of communication. She's going to start with email or Brightspace Course Messenger.
Obviously, this is making light of a situation, although I'm sure you have seen this in your classrooms where people are texting or emailing a professor using their cell phones. I want you to be mindful if you are doing that, if your messaging your professor obviously you wouldn't be texting them. But if you are emailing your professor from your phone, that's a place where students often make errors. We want to talk a little bit about that. We'll look at the next slide.
Before you hit send, ask yourself if your emails look like, and we're going to show you a few here.
These are actual emails that were sent to professors. Ms. W, exclamation. Wazzup? Girl, tell me what we have to do for Friday because I take three classes and work 15 hours a week and I don't have time to get to a computer to look thing up. I really liked your class because you're funny. Let me know because I'm a really good student and need a A in your class. No signature. I think while you may chuckle at this, as I said, this was an actual email. Wazzup girl is probably not the best way to address your professor or anybody who is an authority in your life. Someday it's going to be, or could be a boss. You want to give them the respect that they deserve. You don't have to necessarily like them to know that they are an authority figure and so you should speak to them in that way. Clearly, there are a lot of errors in here that the classes is misspelled. Get, is misspelled. The don't does not have an apostrophe because it's not spelled out. Your is spelled incorrectly. It's the wrong form of the word, really is missing and I know it's supposed to be a shortened for really R-E-A-L-L-Y. Then ultimately, no signature. What's humorous about this is that I need to get a A, would be an an A. There's literally nothing about this email that indicates a student who wrote something like this deserves an A, this is not a message to one of your best friends, or a pal, or somebody you've met out at the mall. This is somebody who you should be trying to impress. Somebody who you want to know that you are doing your best in their class and that you don't see this as just a passing communication. The next one, Hey, I'm in your class this semester but have missed the first four days due to some unexpected problems with work and family, winking face, I would like to make up the work if you can send me the syllabus and all the handouts. Thank you. Also, if I miss any important information, will we be needing the book this semester because I'm on a budget L-O-L and then T-H-X for thanks. There's lots of things wrong with this. Clearly, the missing capital letters. The use of the letter U for you. The reason that you go to your first week of classes is so that you can get this information. Your professor is not obligated to teach you separately and to give you all of the information and they shouldn't be expected to do that either. Will we be needing the book? Yes. If the book has been ordered, you need it. Did I miss anything important? Yes. They're not just standing up there for the heck of it. They're there for a reason. Hey, even if it's a professor who you know really well, that might be passable. Still, we know that this is at the very beginning of a semester, and that is just not a way to, again, impress the authority figure in your class. Someday if it's a boss, just saying hey to them, they probably aren't going to look to fondly on that. LOL, as I said, a quick message. This is somebody who you need important information from and you should not be addressing them in this way. Then the next one. What's up, Sherry, I left my tests in the back of the classroom. I was hoping you could pick it up and give me comments on it and also maybe make a study schedule for me so I know how to improve. I know you're busy, so thanks. The fact that the student addresses the professor by their first name is not the issue in here. There are many people on campus who are fine with that and, they'll let you know how to address them. Generally, if you're not sure, then that's something that we'll be talking about as well. I left my test in the back of the classroom, does not seem like the smartest thing for a student to do. I was hoping you could pick it up. The professor then it has to go out of their way to pick up this student's exam. That's not their job. They're not there to chase after 60, 80,100 students and all of their work. Give me comments on it is something that is great to ask your professor to do. But your job is to make an appointment with the professor and not suggest to them that that's their job and they should just send it to you when they're ready. This is a dialogue, college is dialogue, so when you go to class and you speak with the professor, you want to be looking at them, you want to be having that dialogue with them so that you can actually ask questions and communicate with them so that you fully understand what's expected of them. Make a study schedule for me is also not the professor's job. That's something where you would come to the Learning Commons, where we are on both the Auburn and Fulton campuses. Coming to see one of the tutors, the reading specialist, me, or one of the math specialist, or even one of our tutors, we can help you do that with time management. Again, not the professor's job. If you went into the professor and ask them, is there any way you can help me go through this if they have the time, they will, but asking them to do it on their own time is just something that you should not ask and should not be expected of them. I know you're busy, so thanks. Well, if you know they're busy, why are you sending the email? That's one of the questions I would have asked this student. Again, focusing on capital letters, punctuation. If you are writing a letter, an email to your English professor, not capitalizing is not going to help you at all. Some of the things that we look at. I will also tell you, it doesn't even have to be an English professor. Most professors, I know expect letters or emails that you have read and proofread and that looked like complete sentences and not like you're just having a texting party with some of your friends.
Thank you, Chris. I do want to say, and I think this we could also have mentioned at the end, but certainly we are both aware that there are some students that really struggle with writing, they struggle with spelling. I think going with that before you hit send, it's okay to ask for help. If you are looking to get some help and how do I write an email that doesn't look like I'm texting my best friend, come down to the Learning Commons, meet with the writing specialists, meet with a tutor, and they can hopefully help you with some tips and make sure you're using spell check and all the things. Understanding that it is okay if you struggle with writing, but be aware of that and use the resources that are available to you to help make sure that you're communicating professionally because it's not going to end here. You'll be communicating professionally as you move forward into the next chapter of your life, whether that be college or a job or so forth. It's a good way to get started. I'm going to transition into meeting with your professors in person or virtually. It's pretty much the same in that you are face-to-face. Whether you're in the same room or you're behind computers in different places, these are more of your face-to-face. I think also, regardless of whether it's email or in person, just again, making sure you're asking instructors how they prefer to be addressed. Do they prefer Professor, Dr., Mr, Mrs? Do they prefer you use their first name? I would err on the side of caution until you really know and use something more professional, professor is, you can't go wrong. But some instructors will tell you or you'll be able to see it in the communications that they already send you. If they send you an email and at the end write Professor Grella, like me, then that's probably how I would be addressing her. You'll want to find out when an instructor has drop-in office hours if you plan to drop in, that's really important. If it's something sensitive, however, you might want to set up an appointment. If you're going to talk about accommodations, concerns about grades, something personal, that's why you've missed class, you may not want to go into office hours to drop in because there could potentially be other students. Set up an appointment to meet with them. You can also email an instructor and ask them if they'll be available to speak with you before class or afterwards, keeping in mind that instructors are busy so they may not be able to. But you could politely say, if I came to class a couple of minutes early, would you have a moment to speak with me? I don't think it hurts to ask. With the understanding that they might say no, we need to make an appointment, I have to be somewhere, I get in right before, I have to leave right after. Then so scheduling that time. Make sure that you are on time. If that's an in-person meeting or if it's through Zoom. If you are asking an instructor to meet with you in times outside of the classroom time or outside of their office hours, they don't want to be waiting on the Zoom for you to come in. Make sure it's a time where you're free, you're free of distractions and all of those things so that you can have a good productive meeting with that professor. If you know you need to cancel, your kid is sick, something else comes up, you have to go to the dentist, whatever it is, make sure you're letting your instructor know as soon as you can, not five-minutes before the Zoom. Sorry, I can't make it, I got to run. Now, obviously if there's a huge emergency, that's one thing. But using these rules of thumb about being on time, making sure you let people know if you're going to cancel, I think are really helpful. That's whether you're meeting in person or virtually. This is going along with all of that. Be prepared. If you do have specific questions or concerns or you have course material you need assistance with, make that list in advance, have that ready ahead of time before you meet with your professor, and not just go in and say, I don't understand any of this. Again, as Chris mentioned, they're not there to reteach you all of the material that's in the class. But you may have specific questions about, I'm really struggling with this as I'm getting ready to write my paper, these concepts in psychology or sociology, or even could be math. I mean, we have math resources, but maybe you have a question about something specific. Make sure you have that ahead of time. Again, make an appointment. I think you can't go wrong with making an appointment. I would say if there's something you want to talk about, whether it's confidential, if it's a quick thing, I'm going to be late for class next week because my daughter has a very important appointment and I'll just slide in, that's one thing. But if you want to talk about accommodations, other confidential information, make sure you schedule that time. Be present. This is really important. There's nothing worse than being in a meeting, particularly one-on-one and the other individual is not present. Make sure that your phone, your device is muted. If you're sitting there and you're getting ready to talk to your instructor and you're like, wait, hold on just a second, I've got to, that is not professional. No distractions, you're present, you're listening, they're listening. Remember, this person is giving you their time, so they're expecting you to give them your time. Utilize your resources. As I said before, it's okay to feel anxious about speaking with professors, particularly if you're new to college. It's okay to talk to somebody you trust first to help you be prepared. Again, to help look at that email. Maybe the email is to set up the appointment. But ask someone. Sometimes students will come to my office and say, I have to talk to Professor Smith, I'm just making this up, and I'm just really nervous. I'll say, Oh, you know what? Professor Smith is very approachable. I would send him or her an email and say, I'd like to make it an appointment with you. I have a couple of questions about the material and something along those lines. Sometimes if you're talking with other people, they might be able to ease some of those concerns. This is the way to go. But when all else fails, being professional in your writing and in your one-on-one conversations is going to take you a long way.
Those are just some helpful tips. Does anybody have any questions? Thank you so much for attending our workshop, and we are available. Our contact information is here on this slide. Again, I'm Karen Grella, and I'm your Accessibility Resources Coordinator, and Chris Motto is our Writing and Tutorial Support Coordinator, and we are here to help. Thank you so much.