Professional Communication Begins with You

By Misty Brannan, Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice, Kaplan University

The upcoming generations are more technically advanced than most professors were at younger ages.  This technology is helpful and has brought education to new levels.  Not only are students taking classes online at the university level, they are taking them in high school and utilizing computers in classrooms all the way down to kindergarten.  With the wide range of communication tools, especially social media, younger generations are struggling more and more with writing skills.

As professors, we know we do not write like we speak, as Amy Sexton mentioned in her blog I Write Just Like I talk.  Are we communicating this to our students clearly?  We must lead by example and can do so in the everyday communication we utilize.  All communications should be well written and clear.  This includes discussion board posts, grade reviews, announcements, emails, and Remind101 or other cell reminders.

Do Not:

  • Use abbreviated words.  As difficult as it is, our writing skills will improve by simply avoiding all abbreviations even in a quick text message to students.  Taking the opportunity to write well in any writing situation will allow each of us to practice.
  • Use unneeded words such as “that” in sentences.  By simply removing “that” from our writing, our papers immediately begin to look and read better.  The college level writer should not have the word “that” twice in a sentence or four times in a paragraph.   Concentrate on removing it from your writing and watch your skill improve.


  • Write positively when sending emails or comments to your students.  Put a smile on and write what you mean to say even if you are frustrated.  I mean this literally.  In college, I worked for a telemarketing type company acquiring funds from alumni.  The key was to smile while you talked to the person over the phone because it made the conversation positive and successful.  This holds true for writing as well.
  • Realize communication can be misconstrued when writing.  We’ve all had a student take an email the wrong way or read more into it than it really says.  We can avoid this by being plain and simple.  The student-teacher relationship is not personal, and communication shouldn’t get personal either.  Plain and simple writing without negative emotion will avoid complications later.

Staying professional in our writing is imperative in communication.  Take written communication seriously and make it an opportunity to write well.  Do so with a smile, and then pass this technique on to your students!

© 2014 Jupiterimages

© 2014 Jupiterimages

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4 Responses

  1. Diane Morgan says:

    The Age of Technology is here to stay! My 3 year old grandchild uses many devices. Her first was her mother’s phone. Now that technology has become annexed to the “mother tongue” we can expect higher levels of competency and confidence from the next generation’s use and implementation of high technology in society.

    • Misty Brannan says:

      Yes Ms. Morgan,
      My kindergartner texts my mom from my phone which blows my mind. I am pretty sure I finger-painted and ate paste in kindergarten. Now my daughter has been asking when she gets a phone and pouts because she “needs one”. On the flip side, I worry the technology will completely take over. Even in our classrooms, students do not need to learn APA because the computer will do it for them. What will it be like for our little ones when they reach college years? Very scary. Thanks for the response!!

  2. Misty Brannan says:

    Thank you! I continue to practice everyday 🙂

  3. Dr. Jan Roy says:

    These are great tips for improving writing skills. I absolutely agree with your do’s and don’t’s. Writing well is a continual process. It takes practice.

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