Great advice for students

Wow, has it been this long since I posted to this blog page? Well, it’s been too long. I’m back, to share a bit of wisdom from a fellow college prof. I can’t say it any better than Professor Janni Aragon can.

While grading student papers, I make comments (no names mentioned, unless it’s a shout-out about something fantastic) about grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other fun stuff via Twitter.  I usually keep Tweetdeck running with several columns open, since my students often contact me via Twitter when they know I’m online.

If you’re not familiar with Twitter, there’s such a thing as a hashtag, which is simply a “#” (pound sign) put before a key word. People following that hashtag, but not necessarily you, will see that tweet. It’s a great way to make new friends on Twitter. Sports fans do it all the time during games (#Cowboys, #BigBlueNation, etc.) and commentary on breaking news often spawns hashtags (#Gaza is trending as I write this). Look for plenty of tweets with hashtags during awards shows, reality TV shows, major events and speeches by the President. I have a hashtag for each of my classes, to clue the kids in when I’m specifically addressing them as a group. They also use the hashtags to share links to articles with each other.

One of the hashtags I routinely follow is #grading.  Teachers all over the word commiserate, vent, or brag via this hashtag. They sometimes share weird things they read in student papers. It’s a little stress release, and is also frequently the source of useful information for teachers and students alike. Today was one such day.

I glanced up and saw this tweet from Sean Irwin, who is a PhD student in geography at the University of Victoria in BC.

 He was re-tweeting a link from Janni’s blog, and it caught my eye, because it addressed many students’ concerns when they get graded papers back.

I read it, commented on it, re-tweeted it and am now sharing it here for you because Janni is one wise woman.

I hope all students know it’s not about them, it’s about their work. Yes, I presume there is a teacher/professor/TA out there somewhere who hates a kid and makes it personal, but we’re all pretty honest, and try to be fair.  Remember that the next time you get a paper back that looks like someone bled colored ink all over it. It’s for your good.

And don’t be afraid to come talk to us, either. We might just like you even better.

Blogs my students write

It’s no secret I love my students. Well, maybe to them it is, because I do have to use tough love to get some of them to reach their potential.  I hold them to the highest professional standards, and rarely cut them slack on their work. You see, the vast majority of my students are seniors, most in their last semester before launching their careers in the “real world.” I can’t baby them as I prepare to kick them out of the nest.  But I still love them and cry at graduation because I know that’s the last time I’ll see many of them.

At the end of the semester I ask them to write blog posts summarizing what they learned in their classes.  They’re always good, and they provide me valuable feedback I wouldn’t get on a standard student evaluation.  Some of them wax nostalgic, some are inspiring, but all show the students’ newfound maturity as they face graduation. 

Some blogs are particularly memorable, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share two with you.

Alisha Andrews (@alychele on twitter) has been in a bunch of my classes, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching her develop as a writer and strategist through two PR writing classes, an ethics class and a social media class.  Besides her good work, she’s got the most infectious smile, and no matter how bad my day has been, one glimpse at her grin makes the gray clouds part and the sun come out.  So it’s no surprise to me that her blog about Journalism 4460–a required PR Communication class that just about kills me along with the students–hit the nail on the head.  This could easily be the first page of the syllabus next semester.

Reading this blog post took me back a year to another post by former student Sarah Minton (@sarahalisa18 on twitter), in which she expounds on how one knows they’re a PR student at UNT. Enjoy! Sarah was in two of my classes–the infamous Journalism 4460 and my ethics class. Sarah was the Outstanding PR student for the 2009/2010 school year, and another student who was a joy to be around. An avid football fan, she’s famous for striking the Heisman Trophy pose as she walked across the stage at graduation last December.

I’m looking forward to following both of these bright young ladies’ careers, and hope they keep blogging–and making us laugh–for many years to come.