Tuesday, September 2, 2008, I taught my first actual section of English
160, Technical Communication. I was a bit nervous before hand
(understandably so) but I’ve done a fair amount of public speaking and
theatrical work in my day, so this wasn’t a huge deal.
The biggest challenge is simply
to get the students to talk. Using Dr. Northcut’s lesson plan for the
day, I asked the students to comment on 5 sample emails. Although it
took a bit of coaxing on my part, I managed to get quite a bit of good
feedback from students about the emails. They definitely noticed the
deficiencies and offered some suggestions on improvement, such as
including a salutation or being more specific (one email had vague
pronoun references in abundance).
They were a bit confused about
the group assignment at first and that may be partly my fault. I asked
the students to take a look at the grading rubric for their proposal
email assignment and apply that same rubric to the sample proposal
emails. Each group had to appoint a presenter to explain their
findings. Again, they did a pretty good job with this assignment when
they finally got going. I thought they stuck a little too closely to
the rubric, though.
I also tried to instill in them
some of the importance of writing professional emails. I told them a
story or two about how badly written emails can get people into trouble
(or even fired). I also talked about how email is a business record of
the organization. Finally, I mentioned that email is often the first
impression people have of them. It is to their benefit to write
professional emails, particularly when introducing themselves to
Overall, I thought it went pretty well. I am curious what their reactions will be today when Dr. Northcut teaches the class.