Professor Teaches Students How to Stop Texting... and Start Talking for Better Grades

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New college success book takes students out of texting and Facebook and provides verbal tools for required face-to-face interactions with professors. Students will experience improved grades, a richer academic experience, and confident, competent communication skills honed in college, but useful for life. Review copies, feature story, or interview immediately available.

Students' relationships outside of class revolve around texting and Facebook," Bremen says. "Then professors wonder why students fumble over the simplest face-to-face interactions in class.

A Washington college professor is encouraging students not to be silenced by their technology. Amid recent news reports that Facebook creates loneliness and technology rewires people's brains and causes interpersonal incompetence, Ellen Bremen, a tenured professor of Communication Studies at Highline Community College, has a mission to bring students' voices back--particularly when they have to speak to professors.

"Students' relationships largely revolve around Facebook and texting outside of class," Bremen says. "In my Interpersonal Communication course, students admit that they don't even talk on the phone. Then, we professors wonder why students struggle to communicate face-to-face with us over simple class-related issues, such as late work, absences, or grades."

Bremen adds, “When students can't communicate with their professors, they feel frustrated, angry, and often struggle in isolation and silence. Professors become annoyed and perceive students as lazy when they don't ask for help. This disconnect means that professors miss out on teachable moments, and students lose vital communication practice that could help them professionally later.”

Ellen Bremen’s new book, Say This, NOT That to Your Professor: 36 Talking Tips for College Success, is designed to get students talking again. Bremen tells students the exact words to say--and what not to say--to professors to deal with everyday classroom issues that most college students will face at some point in their classes. In this first book within the college success genre to deal with the student-professor relationship, students learn how to talk through issues such as problematic grades, boring classes, feedback, asking for help, and extra credit with competence and confidence. Students also receive an insider's perspective on college policy that will further empower their ability to communicate important needs with assertiveness.

Bremen’s goal is for students to use professors as a training ground: “We’re safe practice for students to work on communication skills,” she says. “Students can fumble with us and work through their words, then get them right for when similar situations come up later on in the workplace.”

Here are just some of the numerous, invaluable nuggets of advice contained in Bremen's book:

On day ONE after students have gone over the syllabus and any introductory material, they should say say to their professors, "I am trying to get an A (or B, C, whatever) in this class. Can I meet with you to create a plan?"

They should ask, "Do you review work in advance? How early would you like me to submit that? Via e-mail? In person?”

What should students never say?

"Why'd you GIVE me that grade?"     (Grades are earned, never given!)

"But I worked SO hard!"     (A prof can't grade for effort... unfortunately)

"I really NEEDED to get a 4.0 in this class!"... in week 10 (Grade goal conversations must happen in week 1 when students and profs can actually hatch a plan!).

While the book focuses on face-to-face communication, it definitely includes e-mail communication, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Facebook correspondence with professors. Students learn about appropriate interactions using those tools, too.

Say This, NOT That to Your Professor is the first book that is totally devoted to the student-prof dynamic. Like it or not, most of the essential communication that leads to success in college has to be done face-to-face, regardless of how students are managing communication in the rest of their lives.

If you would like to receive a review copy of this book, please verify your best street address. Please call or email if you wish to receive information on the contributors in your local area.

280 pages, trade soft cover 6” x 9”
ISBN 978-1-935254-68-3
Published by Norlights Press, 762 State Road 458, Bedford, IN 47421 888-558-4354

For more information visit

About the Author
A 14-year classroom veteran, Ellen Bremen is tenured faculty in the Communication Studies department at Highline Community College. She has previously taught at Darton College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and the College of Southern Nevada.

Ellen has received national recognition for teaching innovation by the Sloan-Consortium (2011), the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development and the National Council of Instructional Administrators (2003). She received degrees in Post-Secondary Education and Communication. Ellen blogs as The Chatty Professor.

What People Are Saying

“I wish I had this book around when I was in college! What an excellent read on communication—with professors, and in general.” Dave Kerpen, author of NY Times best seller Likeable Social Media

“Ellen Bremen’s book will help students avoid worst-case scenarios in the classroom and on their transcripts, with concrete tools and strategies for communicating effectively with professors. Students will develop skills for college and for life.” Jennifer Worick, The New York Times bestselling co-author of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College

“Students crave concrete advice on how to get more for their tuition dollars. Bremen’s book provides this advice and does so for a topic that is both immensely relevant and as yet unplumbed by other advice guides: a formula for success.” Cal Newport, assistant professor, Georgetown University, author of How to Become a Straight-A Student and How to Win at College

“Ellen is the Dear Abby of college professors, so respectful, and with amazing wisdom about the inner workings of college.” Vicki Davis, author of the award winning Cool Cat Teacher blog, Lifetime Television for Women, “The Balancing Act” blogger, and co-author of the upcoming Flattening Classrooms, Expanding Minds

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