Barnabas or Barnabarbie

Hello everyone:

Have you ever known a guy or gal who was such an encouragement to your heart that you just wanted to give him or her a great big hug?

I have been blessed to have people like that in my life.  I call them “Barnabas” and “Barnabarbie” in honor of Barnabas in the Bible. The name “Barnabas” means “son of encouragement.” Some encourages are not male, hence the “Barnabarbie.”

These folks always lift you up. Sometimes they tell you things you need to hear, even when you don’t want to hear them, but they do it nicely. They don’t put you down. They always have time for you. They support your biggest dreams, even when the odds are against your dreams ever panning out. They always tell you that you can do it, that you can achieve whatever you are aiming for.  They pray for you.  They are always on your side.

Thank you to all of the Barnabarbies in my life. I love and appreciate you more than words can say.


Dr. Sheri

Studying for undergraduate exams

Hello everyone:

I was talking this week with a student who told me she did not know how to prepare for an exam. She’s a freshman who perhaps did not need to study in high school but she knows she needs to now. Wise woman!

So how do you go about preparing for a test? First, take notes on lectures. When you get home in the evening, review those notes while they are still fresh in your mind and fill in the blanks of anything you missed, using your textbook. If you still have some blanks, as the professor at the next class.

Review all the notes for the week on a weekly basis. Make up note cards for any definitions you need to learn. Hand-write all notes and note cards because studies have shown that students who hand write things remember them better than those folks who take notes on a computer. That’s why I do not allow computers for note-taking in any of my classes.

As you get closer to the exam, review all of the notes you have taken since the last exam on an every-day-or-so basis. Even if you have not memorized the answers to potential questions, you should be able to recognize the correct answer when you see the exam.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.


Dr. Sheri

Working with a team, even if the team doesn’t work

Hello everyone:

Many professors stress group work. Many students groan. Why would they want to work with total strangers and take a chance on their teammates having a negative impact on their own grade?

Well, you probably don’t want to do team work.  Sadly,   you probably don’t have a choice in the matter. Welcome to the real world. When you get out in the world of business, you will find group work everywhere.

Sometimes it is called “team building” or “bonding,” but what it means is putting your own work on the line as you let others have a say in how your project goes.

Let’s grin and bear it and make it work for you. First, find out if you can pick your own teams (you can, in most of my classes). If this is allowed, look for students who you know get high grades and who have a work ethic like your own.

What that means is, if your idea of turning in something “on time” is two days early, do NOT team up with someone who says it’s “on time” if it’s due at 11:59 and you turn it in at 11:58. Team up with that person and you will drive one another nuts.

Next, do you have a schedule for when things have to be done?  Make one up, working backwards to figure out when each step of the project must be complete. Stick to your plan, as much as possible, and build in time to let a project “sit” for a few days before you turn it in.

That way, if you need to make some major overhauls at the end, you will have time to do so.  So-called “all nighters” are not fun and they do not produce the best work, no matter what Last-Minute Lewy says.

Finally, you may have to fire a teammate, if he or she is not producing. This is very hard to do, emotionally, but look at the project like a business. If you don’t show up for work, you get fired. Ask for permission to drop the person from your team, if necessary.

Teamwork can actually be wonderful. I joined a study group team five years ago as we prepared for our Ph.D. qualifying exams. We passed that hurdle and then continued to meet to write our dissertations. We completed those individual tasks while continuing to encourage one another.  We have all now graduated but we continue to meet in order to bounce ideas off one another. It’s an example of a great partnership, which can happen to you, if you pick your team wisely.


Dr. Sheri

Keeping the professor informed

Hello everyone:

I have three students who were trapped on their street by snow recently. They let me know, so guess how many points they lost for not being in class? None.

I have a student with a deadline this weekend whose husband was taken seriously ill this week. She emailed me this afternoon, to let me know she was struggling with getting her homework done in the face of her hubby’s hospitalization. Guess what she got? An extension of the deadline.

I have another student with the “excuse of the week..” In an eight week course, she had reasons every single week for why she was late on posting her assignments. Guess what she got? No extensions after the first two weeks of excusitis and no letter of recommendation saying what a wonderful student she was, because she wasn’t.

When H1N1 was a big problem, I had one student who got it 5 times…or so she said. She actually never got it at all but her symptoms always occurred when we had a major assignment due. Guess what she got? A poor final grade.

Problems arise.  Life happens. Make a Plan B so that, if Plan A fails, you have something to fall back on. Do keep your professor informed but don’t take advantage of him or her. It’s like losing your electricity. We lose ours every once in a while, so I have a Plan B, Plan C, and a Plan D, if my normal Plan A isn’t working.  Food for thought.


Dr. Sheri


Planning ahead can mean a weekend off

Hello everyone:

In one of my classes, I have a rough draft that was due yesterday. I have several students who did less than the bare minimum, and one actually posted the wrong assignment just so he could say he posted a rough draft.

That’s pitiful.

I have another student who turned in a rough draft that shows he cared about the assignment enough to do it extremely well. He did it so well in fact that I graded his rough draft, noticed he had already done his discussion board postings for the week, and told him to enjoy his weekend off. It’s a holiday weekend that he can spend with his family, instead of spending it at his computer. He won’t be using up family time this weekend with class work. He is well-organized and used his time very wisely.

Who planned ahead the best? You guessed it. Why spend a lovely spring holiday weekend staring at a computer screen when you can, by planning ahead, take that time to be with friends and family? It’s a no-brainer in my book.


Dr. Sheri

Making the differently-abled feel more abled

Hello everyone:

Do you know anyone who requires care? Maybe this person has a caregiver who accompanies him or her everywhere he or she goes. A common reaction to the disabled person is that he or she is ignored or overlooked while folks carry on a conversation with the care provider.

This disabled person could be elderly person who is demented or a fairly young person who is in a wheelchair.

Would you like to be a blessing to both the caregiver and the person receiving that care? Talk to the care receiver.  Do not do it in a demeaning way, but actively listen to what the person is saying. If you can’t understand a word, act as if you do. Make that person feel important, valued.

If you approach someone in a wheelchair, get down on that individual’s level, which may mean you have to sit down. Talk to the person as if he or she is important- because disabled folks are just as important as those who are not.

Whether or not someone is able to respond as he or she once was, everyone likes to feel like what he or she says is important. By showing that person is valued, you bless not only the disabled individual, but you bring joy to the caregiver, as well.

Do you have a special way of showing others they are special? I would love to hear your story!


Dr. Sheri

Read before you post

Hello everyone:

Do you know the easiest way to catch errors? Read your document OUT LOUD before you submit it for grading. I recently read my novel’s manuscript (90,003 words) out loud and was amazed at what I caught.

The thing is, some students ignore that advice and post some really awkward sentences. They apparently also ignore the spell check and grammar check on their computers, as well. Please, if you value your grade, do not post some of the following sentences:

Weather or knot he goes, I will bee their.

The birds our flying overhead.

Makes the thing I do easy when I can just stop by and grab something knowing for  a fact its going to bee in the same spot ready to go (note the lack of punctuation in this wanna be sentence.)

Just a good vibe to sea when you walk in the building (again, no punctuation is just one of the problems here. Add in slang and a misspelled word and a sentence fragment and you have a combination worthy of a poor grade.)

IT Jones making to chief and start ordering people to get qualification when she did not have any as a IT.

Due to IT nickel accent from his culture it create miscommunication because his worker could not understand his instructions.

The first two I made up, but they have their basis in a freshman writing course I taught. The rest came from junior/senior level writing papers in the past two weeks.


Dr. Sheri

Being penny wise and not pound foolish

Hello everyone:

I met up with a former high school teacher a few years ago, running into him at the mall. After asking what he was doing now, he told me that he was back at the same high school after a five-year break.

He immediately (and voluntarily) launched into an explanation, telling me that he had met a wealthy, older widow a few years before and that she had taken him into her home (and her pocketbook).

Over a period of a couple of months, she began giving him lavish gifts; her financial advisor cautioned her repeatedly that she was running through her estate very quickly, but she told him to mind his own business.

One day, she asked her counselor if she should marry her much-younger boyfriend and she was told, “You might as well. You’re spending all of your money on him.”

They got married a short time later and their spending increased. He told me that they thought nothing of taking friends to Paris for the weekend or going to New York City for lunch.

He said that they had spent money like drunken sailors on shore leave, until one day when they found out they were broke. They were forced to sell her gorgeous house and their numerous expensive cars.

When I ran into him, they were living in a very modest home with economical cars. He said, “I spent all of her money and now we are back to where I was before I met her.”

To his credit, he did not divorce her and move on, he was actually taking care of her, albeit at a considerably lesser lifestyle than they had become accustomed to. His hard-earned advice: Be careful with your money and spend carefully!


Dr. Sheri

Develop a thicker skin for criticism

Hello everyone:

I got an email today from a student who was very upset about the feedback I gave her on a document she had written. She called me a variety of things, none of which were very flattering. At all.

The interesting thing was that the document she had written was worth a low C. If she takes the advice I gave her, she might pull an A on the document.

So what’s the hassle? Does she object to an A? I would have thought she would be grateful. I told her exactly what was wrong and why and I told her how to fix it. She seemed to have a specific problem with subject/verb agreement, putting single nouns with plural pronouns, and using the possessive “‘s” when she meant plural.

I suggested that she visit this blog for an in-depth discussion of these issues. She was mad because I did not take the time to explain them to her personally, but that I asked her to visit this site.  There were 15 other students with similar problems today, and I suggested they all come here. That way, I told her, I did not have to repeat myself.

She thinks I am lazy and was very put out at the whole feedback idea. Folks, I do not get paid anything for this blog. In fact, it costs me time and money to maintain it. I do this twice a week, and have done so for the past two years (this August) because I sincerely care about helping my students. Even ones like her.

I hope you enjoy my blog postings, and hope you get a lot of help out of our time together.


Dr. Sheri

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