Lorelei Blackburn Wins Kairos Teaching Award for Graduate Students

PhD student Lorelei Blackburn received the Kairos Teaching Award for Graduate Students earlier this year. Professor Ellen Cushman praises Blackburn’s attentiveness to her students and her effective teaching methods: “Lorelei is a masterful teacher: reflective, flexibly structured, and responsive to her students’ needs. Her assignment arcs not only represent well the shared learning outcomes of our programs, but seamlessly integrate to give students robust, project based learning experiences. Whether its first year writing or project management courses in the professional writing major, Blackburn delivers the goods and her students learn.” Ohio State University’s Distinguished Humanities Professor Cynthia Selfe nominated Blackburn for this award.

lorelei blackburn

Growing your personal brand as an introvert

Stereotypically speaking, writing is somewhat of a solitary activity. Unfortunately for the introverts attracted to the field, writing often needs to be paired up with marketing – a decidedly extroverted activity. Personal branding can be tough, especially if you find putting yourself out there exhausting. Luckily, there are some ways you can make it easier.

Social media is a fantastic tool for marketing, and it takes much of the pressure off. You have time to reflect and compose your message carefully, without an audience standing right there waiting on you.

Another tip: use subtle clues. Seemingly small details can make a big impact. Simply hanging up diplomas and certifications in your workspace can shift how others perceive you.

Finally, know your limits. Networking is important, but it’s okay to say no to events or dinners when it’s time to recharge.

So introverts, don’t be intimidated! Take advantage of the wonderful tools available, and check out these other introvert-focused branding tips at Lifehacker.

Don’t just be yourself… be all of yourself.

Joss Whedon, the famous screenwriter behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, gave a commencement speech to the class of 2013 at Wesleyan University. He shared the words of the speaker at his own graduation, Bill Cosby, “You’re not going to change the world, so don’t try,” and promptly turned that advice, along with the clichéd advice you hear at almost every graduation, on its head.

Whedon tells us to embrace the contradictions. He touches on the way our body seems to directly contradict our brain’s ambitions (it just wants to make babies and turn into mulch, apparently). He also muses on the tension and contradiction that inherently exists as part of human connection, and asks us to see the value in it. And finally, he asks us to accept the contradictions that exist within us all. “You have, which is a rare thing, that ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself…To accept duality is to earn identity.”

As for changing the world?

“[T]hat’s not even the question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world, because that is actually what the world is.”

You can hear the speech for yourself, or read some more of the transcribed sections over at brainpickings.

Professional emails: get ‘em right

There are many genres that a writer could work in on any given day. But there is one task that almost every writer (or really, almost any professional) faces in their day to day.

Email. It’s a seemingly straightforward task… yet somehow it can be so nerve-wracking in a professional setting. Many people never receive any instruction in how to craft a professional email, so here are some quick tips:

  1. Sound like a human being. It seems obvious, but if you’re not careful you can sound like one of those pre-recorded telephone messages. Don’t work off a template and fill in blanks.
  2. Don’t rush. Emails are meant to be concise. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a sentence or two to ease into the main content. This is especially important with an email to a stranger or new acquaintance.
  3. Be polite. Again, you would think it’s common sense, but it never hurts to add “please” and “thank you” to any requests. Variations on “thank you” can often make great closers.
  4. Proofread. Gmail has this great feature that allows you to give yourself a buffer after hitting the send button. Those ten seconds can be a lifesaver if you notice a flaw at just the right time. But you can avoid the problem all together by giving each email a quick proofread and edit before pulling the trigger.

Another perspective on writing professional emails can be found at Problogger.