Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Blog Post Over on the New Site... Come Check it Out!

I'm talking about $30 course materials over in my new space:


Come on over and follow, comment, Like The Chatty Professor on Facebook so you can keep the information coming.

Just wanted to let you know that this blog has moved! See you on the other side!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Farewell... For Real! Tomorrow, New Blog Launches!

It's the real move this time! 

I know I've said it before, but my new blog/website is all ready to go.

Take a peek, if you'd like: http://www.ellenbremen.com

My first official Wordpress blog post will be out tomorrow. 

I appreciate the latest comments in the past week and I've responded to them in this blog space.

Can't wait to continue our conversations! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Word. Wednesday. Say It Now. (Even on Tuesday!): "Everybody"

(I'm learning that amazing things take time! So, guess what? We're staying in the old space a little longer as I work through some technical adjustments. I want everything to be perfect as I roll out my new space. As a bonus, I figured even if I can't share the aesthetic changes just yet, at least I can preview some of my new content. So, here's my new Wednesday feature--but you can use it any day. How about today? I'll be giving you a word or phrase to say or not say in college... and the rationale behind it. 

One other quick note: Remember last week's post? Of course, you do! It was... just last week. Well, the house next door sold. In. Two. Days. I thought you might find that very interesting. I sure did. Can I just say that I toured the house and there were heated floors. Heated floors!!! Okay, enough about that... The walls went up and we survived. Now, let's get you talking...) 

What's the Word?


This week, I'm going to encourage you not to say this one! Here are variations of how "everybody" goes down:

"A bunch of other students don't get this assignment either!" 

"You know, other students disagreed with their grade, too."
Resign as the "spokesperson." It's okay!

"Everybody else is frustrated that we have our project due in just two weeks!"

In the public speaking section of my Intro to Comm course and in the persuasion section of my Public Speaking course, I teach "bandwagon fallacy." Think about when "nine out of 10 dentists say you should use Crest," how do we know that Crest didn't open up the roof of those dentists' office and rain down tubes of toothpaste (...while playing Marc Anthony and my fave Pitbull in the background "Let it rain over meeeeee"--okay, that's quite a visual, I get it!). 

Is that the reason those nine out of 10 dentists recommend Crest as the toothpaste to use? How do we know for sure?

When students come to me and suddenly become the spokesperson (megaphone?) for "everybody," bandwagon fallacy comes into play: "Everybody feels this way, and I feel this way, too!" It's not that I don't take students seriously when they tell me how "everybody" feels: Could "everybody" be upset about the curriculum? Sure.

Could a bunch of students be frustrated by a grade? Absolutely.

But due to privacy laws, fragmentation of facts, and bad renditions of the telephone game where the message gets muddier and muddier with every iteration, I just have to dial the student back to his or her individual problem

In fact, I tell the student straight out, "I appreciate you letting me know how 'everybody' feels, but right now, I need to focus on what is upsetting/concerning/frustrating you."

Because, really, I can't do one darned thing about other people's issues through the spokesperson who is representing everyone else in my office. 

Best example of this is grades: If a bunch of students are frustrated over grades, can I really talk to the spokesperson about that? No! I'd be fired! 

(Okay, I have tenure, so a long and tedious disciplinary process would first ensue, there would be hearings, paperwork, Venn diagrams, easels, flip charts, possibly lawyers... but you get what I'm saying, right? There would be consequences!).

So say this instead... 

First, when you see your prof, deal with your issue and your issue only!

Next, when you talk to your classmates, tell them to do the same. Say, "I think we'll have more power if we express ourselves individually." 

That's right! More complaints are more powerful! Your prof will take notice of a greater number of singular voices, rather than one person serving as the mouthpiece for a few or vast number of students. 

After all, we are never really sure how many students are really involved in the complaint. But if we hear from a bunch of students that they are struggling, then we know that we have to make an adjustment. Also, if we don't hear what each individual student's problem is, we won't know what exact curricular issue we need to target. Everyone's personal confusion could look very different.

Finally, once the prof resolves your issue, it is totally fine to report that back to your people. Say, "I talked to the prof and got my problem handled. I definitely encourage you to do the same."

Think about it, even if the prof totally went along with your spokesperson gig and said, "Awesome, thank you for telling me how everybody feels. I really appreciate it and I'm going to take care of the problem," would you go back to the entire class, stand in front of the room and say: 

"Um... can I have your attention, please? I spoke with Professor Jones and we're all good here!"

I don't think so (because if you took my class, you'd never start with "um!" Kidding!).

I know that it feels comforting to say that others are having the same issue. You feel less "out there," less on your own.

But please hear me out on this one: You are never on your own in college. Every single person who works there has signed on to support you. Even if you are the only person confused (and that is likely never, ever the case), there are tons of people whose entire job it is to be there for you!

Bottom line? Use your voice. Encourage others to use theirs too. I know that you can, so go for it!

(And I'm always glad to know what you think, so feel free to comment and tell me!). 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Changes: They Are Coming. For You. For Me. (And a Graphical Update on the House Next Door)

I've really missed my regular posting in this space and I hope you've missed it, too.

As a new blogger (my one year anniversary is only a few weeks away), I know that failing to post regularly is blog death. However, never fear, my absence and irregularity is for very good reason. I actually have quite an arsenal of pent up student-professor communication goodness just waiting to emerge for you.

For right now, change is afoot... Exciting changes. I bet you have new changes coming, too, as you move further into this academic year. Maybe you're readying yourself for graduation. Maybe you're finishing your first year. We'll talk about the talk associated with those changes in just a second. First, a little preview on the changes of which I speak:

-Say goodbye to this blog space. The Chatty Professor is moving to a fresh new home thanks to my work with Christian Hollingsworth (http://www.smartboydesigns--have you met him? Followed him? Read his work? Oh my goodness... you have no idea...). Christian is helping me take my social media presence to new and incredible places.

-I recently mentioned some new blog features, which will ramp up the tips I can offer to you each week. Here's a preview:

*Word. Wednesday. Say It Now: Quickie talking tips about your class, college, or other campus-related "stuff" you can use immediately. I'm planning for... guess which day... but you can use the tips any day!

*Let's Talk To: Interviews with experts about how they use communication in their respective fields. It's that "soft skills" training that rarely gets talked about. Well, I'll be talking about it and then you can use those tips to strengthen your abilities!

*Talk About This Today: News to raise your information excellence capital! No more will you want to text before classes. Instead, you'll be 'in the know' when you practice face-to-face communication with these conversation starters. Watch you go! (Okay, I won't be able to see you--that would be weird, but I know you'll write in and tell me about it!).

*And, of course, my regular commentary about all things student-professor comm-related. Don't worry: I'll still add my take on interpersonal communication and, at times, public speaking!

-My book, Say This, NOT That to Your Professor: 36 Talking Tips for College Success is less than 60 days away from release. That's all I'll say about that, but you'll hear more very soon!

-My final change is a little random, but I did promise to update about it in this post called "When the Walls Go Up, How Do You Avoid Getting Down?

Remember this picture? I'll bring you up to speed...

The former view standing on my front porch...
Vashon Island in the distance
My house is on the left. Bob the Builder
rolls in to prep the space. My 4-year old delights. My
husband and I cringe. But we knew it could happen.

We get a taste of what's to come.
No more Vashon Island from
the porch.. or from anywhere.
A few short months later, wallah!
A baby Office Max--er, ultra-modern
house is born. Okay, it's a little cute.
(I'll let you know when it sells.)

So, what's the communication lesson here? 

Even positive change can be stressful to talk about! Maybe you're going through some good changes, like that you're really comfortable with your classes, your degree program, your college, in general. Or maybe, you were thinking about leaving your college and now you're going to stay put. Or, you have changed your mind, but you feel very rooted in that decision (remember my tips here?).

Here are some ways I've messaged some of the happy challenges I've been going through lately:

-"There's an end and I know that. Only a few more weeks left and I can make it. I'm going to hold strong!" 

Nothing lasts forever. A college term has an end. So does a book deadline. I have personally decided that I hate the term, "Hang in there!" because it makes me feel like I have a rope tied in a not-good place. So, I'm replacing "Hang in there!" with "Hold strong!" because it just feels more powerful, more assertive, more positive.

(Remember, you can also ask for help if you need it a'la this post).  

-"It's amazing what the mind can adjust to." 

When our friends see the small office building that has emerged next door, they supportively express sadness for our loss (of a view... I know, it's not like we lost a family member or a pet--we do put this in perspective). But, honestly, a couple of weeks ago, as I was carrying laundry from one room to another (an every day occurrence around here), I realized that the lack of view wasn't really bothering me any more. My eyes adjusted to what was. My family isn't sad, though my son misses the diggers and the builders. The known is so much more freeing than the dread of wondering what would come.

-"This is a good problem to have." 

I have had very, very little sleep lately, thinking about book cover text, fonts, proper endorsement placements, edits, etc. And this is in tandem with other work I have happening. You are juggling work too, wonderful student--probably a lot of it, right?  

Let's put this in perspective:  YOU are in school... you have opportunity ahead of you... you may be working, and you're working toward something. There is every possibility in front of you. You are making it happen. 

I have a dream that I've had since I was a teen-ager about to come true. A dream that's eluded me twice already. A dream that one of my parents and two friends did not live to see. I'm in a pretty fantastic place in my career--this is a full-circle moment. 

Yes, we're both losing some sleep for different reasons. Yes, we're a little (okay, a lot) stressed due to our workload and concern over the quality of our work. But, hell, we're in... the... game.

What a great problem to have! So let's message our "stress" accordingly!

I'm going to end here. To leave this on a positive note, a graphical close:

Look to the right of small Office Max--er, ultra modern. More change may be
coming for potential owners... Other walls could go up later!
Small houses don't always stay that way in Seattle.

Last picture... view from my kitchen window
(back of the ultra modern house). Peek-a-boo view
of Vashon. I'll take it! 

Students, what positive changes are coming your way? I'd love to hear about them! And, of course, I'm always here to talk about those "other" changes, too... Wonderful readers, thanks for your patience with my delay over the past few weeks. See you in the new digs!