Things I learned from teaching Business and Professional Communication

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

I enjoyed teaching English 320: Business and Professional Communication more than I anticipated. For one, it was fun not to have to validate the usefulness of the class in some way. For example, when I teach Writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the genres of these two fields are so different. Because of this, I do have to create a discussion at the start of that course about that fact, how the class can be difficult to teach for that reason, and then explain why I chose the genres and assignments that I did, which I usually repeat at the start of each new assignment. While I still had students telling me that “they didn’t need this course” for a variety of reasons, and there were really only two students who mentioned this at one time or another  with one who loved to remind me and the class, most students saw the value and, I think, learned a few things, as did I, so here is just a brief run down.

1. Next time I will make them do professional presentations on the parts of the professional work environment, which is an idea I stole from my friend Karen. I am doing this in my four week long English 358 right now, but I think this is an incredibly useful idea for any Upper Division writing class geared toward professional writing and communication. These presentations could include things like how to conduct a business meeting to how to dress for a job interview.

2. Focusing on the marketing project during the second half of the semester wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be. When I first was learning how to teach English 320, the instructor I observed had students work on marketing throughout the semester. While it worked for him, I didn’t feel ready to jump into that and decided to teach it in the last six weeks. This worked out well. One thing I noticed, though, was some groups didn’t use their in-class group work time very wisely and so their projects kind of sucked, to put it bluntly. They had some strong areas in their planning proposals, but all together they kind of fell apart, and I think a lot of this is due to the fact that while I gave them a fair amount of group work time, the chose not to use it. I have to find ways, if possible, to make them handle this better.

3. Teaching this many different types of majors wasn’t as complicated as I thought. As long as I focused on the fact this was a class geared toward the myriad ways professionals communicate in business and on the job, and how this class wasn’t only for Business majors, things went well. I made sure to always state the reason and context for teaching what I was teaching. It seemed to work.

4. If I encounter a super resistant student on the first day, I need to shut it down immediately. Not play good listener or anything. I just need to shut that down.

5. Never, ever teach the job packet early in the semester in English 320. Just don’t do it. Make sure they understand the rhetorical situation to a T. I need to make them do the professional blog before this, because after that assignment I think more understood that. And they really did after the marketing project. So this tells me that the job packet should be taught dead last. Dead last, Jessica. Right before the portfolio, of course.

6. I need to go over the rhetorical situation more than I did. Over and over again. With English 358, I don’t need to remind them about this as much. They seem to understand it more, particularly because of the types of courses they take and the majors they have. But English 320. Oh, my. Audience, you all, audience. Context, everyone. Context.

7. While 358ers in some cases do write better, it is only because they know #6 better, or at least that is what I noticed overall.

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