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    Entries in School (3)


    How to Email Your Prof

    It’s the start of term!  OK, so that means that I am going to receive a lot of emails from students.  I think many students could use a few tips in this area.

    1. I’m not your buddy.  I’m not your friend (I’m friendly enough, but, you know, we don’t hang out…)  So, when writing an email to me, don’t start out with ‘Hey’ or ‘Dude’ or anything like that.  Here’s a pretty straightforward tip: have a salutation. So ‘Dear Dr. Brodbeck’ is a good start.  Now, on the first day I’m going to let you know that I prefer being called by my first name, so ‘Dear Dave’ is fine with me.  Frankly, 'Hi Dave' is good too.  Others may prefer their title. You can’t go wrong being too formal. So your default should be ‘Dear Dr.’ Again, call me Dave, that’s fine, but others may not like the first name thing, follow their preferences..  Oh, don't go with 'Dear Professor' or 'Teacher'.  The first one there just seems clumsy to me, and the latter, umm, well, it makes me think I'm teaching elementary school or something....  

    2. Try to use complete English sentences.  So ‘gotta pick courses’ is not as good as ‘Can we meet to look at courses for the coming term?’

    3. Use actual English words.  You’re not texting to me. B4 is not a word.  Thx is not a word.

    4. Related to number 1 above, sign your emails.  ‘Sincerely, Eddie Smith’ (assuming that’s your name) is how you end it.  Or, maybe ‘Eddie’.  

    5. Let me know what class you are in if it is course related.  ‘Can we meet to talk about the essay’ is not nearly as good as ‘Can we meet to talk about the essay in BIOL 2606?’

    6. No emojis, they make you look like you aren’t serious.

    7. LOL.  You actually typed LOL?  Really?  Were you actually laughing out loud?

    8. Punctuation is your friend.  

    9. You are going to get a better reply if you have a question I can answer.  Now, that’s not always going to be the case, as sometimes you are asking to meet to pick classes or something. However, ‘I didn’t understand the last lecture’ is not nearly as good as ‘can you explain that part about spatial and temporal summation again, I didn’t really get it’.  

    10. Don’t expect me to answer right away.  I’m pretty good with answering emails, but, when the work day is done, I’m at home.  I’m not at work.

    11. Your and you're are two different words.  (Now I'm looking frantically to see it I've made any dumb mistakes, I probably have, hey, I just found a place where I wrote 'to' instead of 'two'!)

    That’s all I can think of now.  If anyone has any other tips, let me know and I’ll add them with credit to the person of course.



    Course Materials for Fall 2014 Now Available

    Yup, all set to go.  You can get what you need by clicking on the appropriate link above.  


    What the hell does 2+ mean?

    Our 10 year old son Jon has autism.  He is quite high functioning, in a regular class with normal kids (yes I said 'normal', I am using that in a statistical sense, if you don't like it, get your own blog) and mostly does the same course work they do.  Indeed, his grades put him somewhere in the middle of the pack on average.  He rocks spelling, and French, he loves reading, and like a lot of kids his age, he is not much on math....  There are other classes of course, including gym and art.  Now I get the utility of art and gym.  They are important.  Physical acticivty and creative stuff are good things, and a well rounded person does these things as well as academic pursuits.  

    I may be wrong (as unlikely as that seems....) but I think that part of the point of art is to express emotion.  Now if you know anything about autism you know that emotions are hard for people like Jon.  They have trouble reading them in other people, and expressing them.  Jon wants to understand emotion in others, he often asks 'what feeling do you have?' when he does not know (which, by the way, is VERY cool).  

    Well, the kids had an art assignment, and it seems it was to make posters for being good people.  You know, that sort of touchy feely fuzzy stuff they do to encourage good behaviour.  Jon did a poster of two people holding hands and wrote over top of it 'Be a friend'.  When I saw it it brought tears to my eyes.  He was expressing emotion with a drawing, not just drawing plane crashes or writing up reports on plane crashes (Jon like plane crashes.....).  My poor quality photo of Jon's drawing. Drawing (c) Jon Brodbeck, 2011

    So I was very proud of this work.  Hell I still am.  I then turned it over and saw a grade on it.  He got a '2+'.  I asked Jon what the heck that meant and he explained that things are graded out of 4.  (He got a 4+ on a spelling test yesterday, and that was perfect, so you get the idea).  So, apparently, according to Jon's art teacher, his work is barely a pass.  OK, look I know the kid is no Ken Danby (thought I would throw a Sault Ste. Marie reference in there) but it frankly is no worse than what I would have done at that age.  (Honestly).  Plus, it seems to me that he worked within the parameters of the assignment, he successfully is promoting being a good person.  Finally, HE IS A PERSON WIHT AUTISM WHO JUST EXPRESSED EMOTION THROUGH ART.  (I was shouting there, if you are wondering, oh and I left the word 'FUCKING' out...)  

    I know this is not a big deal for him, I asked, he couldn't care less.  But, this is to me.  I wonder, what was the objective criterion used to grade his work (or the other kids in his class?)  So this is just barely a pass is it?  For a kid that has trouble expressing and even UNDERSTANDING emotion.  Seems to me this is a 4 at least.  

    Now please, I am not saying that in say spelling or math or French or whatever that he should be given some special consideration if he is in the regular program.  He should be graded like everyone else (and he is).  But, in this case, let's be impressed shall we?  He did something that was harder for him than it would be for anyone else in the damned school.  

    We have expressed our concerns and I am confident all will be well.  I can also tell you that I am now using this picture as my desktop and we are framing this picture, 2+ be damned.