Welcome to Class, Kids!

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I recently received this memo from the “Vice President for Learning” at the community college where I teach. I have never read an administrative memo that so insulted the intelligence of faculty members. There are many problems with this memo, which I could (and might) pick apart ad nauseam. For now, I will let the memo speak for itself:

Welcome Email

Rationale, Best Practices and Samples

Rationale

Beginning in Summer 2017, all credit instructors – full-time and adjunct – are required to send a welcome email to students at least three days prior to a course’s start date.  The goal of this college-wide strategy is to immediately engage students.   Below are “best practices” and sample welcome emails to support this college-wide, engagement strategy.

Best Practices for Welcome Emails

The following is a list of suggested best practices for Welcome Emails; none of these suggestions are mandatory, just helpful suggestions to make your Welcome Email the most impactful as possible:

  • Be friendly!  This is your first chance to engage students and let them know they are welcomed in your course and at **CC.
  • Introduce yourself.  You can save specific introductions for your CANVAS webpage or to share during your face-to-face class.
  • Direct students to attend the first class and arrive on time.
  • Share required textbooks and other materials with students, so they can acquire the course learning materials prior to the course beginning.
  • Begin sharing course expectations and studying expectations with students.
  • Communicate your office hours and availability, and when emails are checked and returned.
  • Consider sharing your course syllabus or other important documents with students prior to the course start date.
  • Include links to important student services on campus like the Writing Center and Supplemental Instruction; “It takes a village” is also true for our students and their completion of your course.  Why not engage the village now?
  • Let your teaching philosophy, style and personality shine.  Part of what makes **CC such a robust institution is YOU.
  • Consider sharing a welcome video you have crafted to convey important information to students as well as demystify you, the instructor.

Sample Welcome Emails:
Read the four sample Welcome Emails below.  What do you notice about them?

Sample #1 – Face-to-face class

I’m looking forward to getting to know you next week as we begin our 15-week course in Group Communication and Leadership (COM 141). This is one of my favorite courses to teach because there is so much variety in what goes on in the classroom (some days lectures, other days movies, other days group activities).  I also like that the content is so directly relevant to most of our current and future career paths.

First the answer to the two most frequently asked questions: While we do a lot of group activities in class, there are no “group grades” and no group meetings outside of class. I feel those situations both can create undue stress and annoyance for many students.

There is a “shell” in Canvas (**CC’s learning management system) with this semester’s syllabus, the assignments, and test review sheets already posted.  You can access that shell three days before our course begins.  If you want the syllabus, reading guide, or any documents ahead of time, just shoot me a reply. (I will not be checking email over the weekend.) Be sure to tell me which course and section you are in because I have five courses this semester. You don’t want all five syllabi, I imagine.

When we meet next week I will have hard copies of the syllabus and reading guide for you, and we will begin to get to know each other and think about groups in new ways.

Have a great week!

Professor ***********, Ph.D.

 

Sample #2 – Face-to-face class

Good afternoon, everyone!

I am Dr. ********, your professor for this course, EDU 111-002: Foundations of education. It is an incredible opportunity to study the field of education, complete fieldwork hours in the ********* school system, and figure out if this is the right career path for you!

Please come to class on Tuesday, August 30 at 9:30 am sharp (or a few minutes earlier since parking can be challenging at this time of day) so that we don’t lose one moment of our time together. Attendance is REQUIRED on the first day of class, or it will be suggested that you drop our course and register for the 13 week section.

Please bring your textbook(s) on the first day and every day:

  • (Required) Sadker, M.P.& Sadker, D.M. (2013). Teachers, Schools, and Society.

[Tenth Edition] Boston: McGraw Hill

  • (Suggested, not required) Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset. New York: Random-house Publishing.

Please also have a notebook and something to write with. I check my email very frequently, however, I am not allowed (due to federal laws) to reply to any personal email of yours, ONLY my**CC email or Canvas, so please contact me using your **CC or Canvas email accounts. If you are not in the habit of using that email (or the email account through Canvas), then get in that habit quickly.

I am very excited for our course and to meet you! If you need anything before class starts, please do not hesitate to reach out. Please also email me to let me know you have received this email contact.

Thanks,

Dr. *

P.S. Here is a quick video I made for you with a few more details? (you may need to cut and paste it into a browser)

https://spark.adobe.com/video/HyaVREqq

Sample #3 – Online class

Greetings class!

Welcome to COM 110: Interpersonal Communication! Our class starts next week and I am looking forward to a meaningful learning-filled semester with you!

I have attached the syllabus, since I’m sure some of you are wondering about the course policies and textbook.  You will need the following required textbook to complete assignments due the first week of class: McCornack, S. (2016). Reflect & relate: An introduction to interpersonal communication.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s (4th edition).  A copy is on reserve in our library.

My goal is for your experiences in the course to be meaningful to you as you grow as an interpersonal communicator – in all areas of your life.  When the course begins, please reach out to one another and me for answers to your questions and concerns. We are a learning community and can support each other in having a successful semester. Many of our assignments address personal communication situations, and you will soon find out how much we have in common – as well as ways in which we are unique. 🙂

Note that each week you have one MODULE to complete. Often, the module includes an online DISCUSSION and your first post will always be due on WEDNESDAYS.  All other assignments will be due on SUNDAYS.

Plan to review the week’s module on Monday and then ask questions and get started early.

Remember to purchase the textbook so you will be ready to have a productive first week of the semester.

Have a good week and I’ll be in touch next Monday!

Dr. *******

Sample #4 – Online class

Hello and welcome to ENG 111: Composition & Introduction to Literature.

My name is Dr. ******* and I’ll be your instructor for the semester. You can reach me anytime through the Canvas e-mail system. I regularly check email/Canvas during business hours (9am-5pm) and occasionally later in the evening. I will always respond to email inquiries within 24 hours. Also, if you’re ever on the ****** Campus, you’re also welcome to stop by my office in the ******* Building office ****.  I also encourage you to post questions to the Ask Questions Here! discussion thread. If you are unclear about something, chances are some of your peers are too. This discussion thread lets everyone see my response to your questions.

I want to give you a quick introduction to the class. As you know, this is an 8-week, online course. An 8-week course compresses everything we would normally cover in a 15-week course (16 weeks if you include exam week) into half the time. This course will involve a lot of reading and writing, so be prepared!

In a face-to-face class, **CC recommends that you spend 2 hours of study/homework/writing time for every hour of time spent in the classroom. If this were a face-to-face class, we’d be meeting 6 hours per week and you’d be spending 12 hours per week doing work outside of class. So you should budget about 18 hours every week for the next 8 weeks to complete the reading and the course assignments. If you do not have this time budgeted into your schedule, you are going to have a difficult time being successful in this class. I’m not trying to scare you off, but I want to be honest with the amount of work you should be prepared to do. Week 6, in particular, contains a lot of reading, quiz taking, and writing.

Assignments will be due on Thursday evenings at 11:59pm. I will spend Friday & Saturday grading your work and you should see feedback from me by Sunday or Monday. One exception to this is the first discussion thread assignment. This assignment is designed as a warm-up. It allows me to see a sample of your writing quickly and it lets you get a chance to meet your peers. This first discussion thread is due on Tuesday of the first week.

You should write all of your assignments for this class in Microsoft Word. I know many students use Google Docs (and I occasionally use it myself). But Google Docs lacks some of the features that Word includes and Word documents can be easily uploaded to Canvas. If you’re a student at **CC, you have access to free Microsoft Office software through the Campus Bookstore. Click here for more information.

There are a lot of resources available to you here at **CC. You should visit the course page for information on the Writing Center and the Virtual Writing Center (VWC). In addition to having access to me, the tutors at the Writing Center are available to you as a resource. Your tuition pays for them, so use them if you need extra help!

That’s all for now. I look forward to hearing from you in the first discussion thread this Tuesday!

Dr. *****

What did you notice about the five sample Welcome Emails?

What do you want your Welcome Email to read like? Sound like?

Created by the Retention Explorers, ************** Community College, November 2016

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