Email advice (and the strange absence of teaching)

Via boing boing, I learned about this, “Write a perfect email,” on the Wired How To Wiki. It’s solid advice, and even though it strikes me as simplistic and common sense to the extreme, I know this is something I will pass along to students in my classes. In fact, I created a document similar to this a few years ago, “How to Send Krause Email.” I’ve been using it in my teaching, particularly my online teaching, for a while now, and it has been pretty effective. I assign it as reading early in classes. If a student sends me an email that is way outside the boundaries of these rules, I send the student a link to this little set of instructions. It’s surprising, but it really does seem to make a difference.

Ah, teaching. That is one of the strange things about the sabbatical lite experience so far. I’m still doing some light administrative work that has so far taken the form of a lot of emails and phone calls, but things next week will start getting geared up with meetings and such. So, for better or worse, I am still very much engaged in the daily life of the university and the department. On the other hand, I’m supposed to be working on scholarship things instead of teaching things. I say “I’m supposed to be” because this week, I have spent a great deal of time painting the front of my house, a project that is more or less weather sensitive: it will be too cold to paint sooner than later. And much of what I’ve been doing for the last couple days has had to do with a party we’re having to celebrate the publication of my wife’s book. But I digress.

Anyway, I guess what I am experiencing is what has to be a common sabbatical experience, which is the strange absence of actually teaching as part of my job. I’ve pretty much been teaching every fall for almost 20 years (I’m including my graduate school experiences here), so to just not do that for a term like this has been kind of odd. Not at all bad, I should point out– it’s nice to have a bit of a break. But it’s still strange, and I think that strangeness actually isn’t helping me in terms of scholarship.

Of course, I should probably get back to these sabbatical lite projects….

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