Author Archives: bizcombuzz

Acknowledging the New Normal: Helping Students Weather Pandemic-Induced Trauma

It’s hardly a secret that our students have endured a great deal over the last few years. Experts are calling it collective trauma, or the impact of a harrowing occurrence that affects an entire community and that can change policies or social norms. College learning most definitely qualifies as one of the institutions profoundly affected by the pandemic. So how can instructors acknowledge this new normal and help students?

Experts point to pedagogical strategies especially helpful at the beginning of a new semester.

  1. Emphasize safety. Many young people have felt unsafe during the pandemic, but they typically have a hard time admitting their vulnerability. One of the ways to address this reality is to remind students that the classroom is a safe space, that while learning may not always be easy, instructors consider students’ mental health when creating and teaching the course. It also helps for instructors to show their own vulnerability to be more relatable.
  2. Be transparent and predictable. People who have experienced trauma require predictability to avoid triggers that stoke their fragility. A clear syllabus that spells out the instructor’s expectations about participation, deadlines, and policies helps students grasp onto something solid.
  3. Encourage peer support. One of the worst by-products of the pandemic has been isolation. Whether a class is fully or partially remote or if it is face-to-face, students need to interact with one another. Some instructors allow 5-10 minutes at the beginning of class for students to talk about what’s happened in their lives. Instructors can create groups of 4-5 or open the discussion to the entire class. The point is for classmates offer solutions to problems their peers face. Not only does this exercise allow students to disgorge difficult experiences, but it encourages problem-solving, always desirable in the business communication classroom.
  4. Include students in (some!) classroom decisions. Many students consider their teachers authority figures and are resigned to following instructions without offering their own input. But students affected by trauma especially need collaboration. Instructors can include students in certain decisions. For example, at the beginning of the course, students can weigh in on which classroom behaviors should be adopted and how breaches should be dealt with.
  5. Foster student voices. Trauma victims tend to experience low self-worth. Such feelings impede learning, but they can be countered with activities that build classroom camaraderie while reminding students about their skills and attributes. One such exercise that is especially helpful at the beginning of a new term is to have students work in pairs to answer questions such as What are you good at? How can you add value to our class, How can we support one another? before opening the conversation to the entire class. Some students may be hesitant to share such ideas with a large group and may require an alternative such as e-mail to voice their responses.
  6. Provide a welcoming atmosphere. Our diverse students come to college with a multitude of experiences and cultural backgrounds. When welcoming students on the first day, instructors should discuss inclusivity and make sure that all students feel they belong to the classroom’s learning community.

No one is immune to the difficulties the pandemic has foisted on us all. By showing our students that their collective trauma is acknowledged, we create a supportive learning space they will appreciate.

Source: Herr-Perrin, A. (2021, November 15.) Six tips for cultivating a trauma-informed higher education classroom at the beginning of each semester. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from

Handling Hyphens

[Instructors: Downloads PDFs of the exercise and its key at the end of this post.]

When you join two or more words to form a single modifier preceding a noun, add a temporary hyphen: a two-year-old child. If the same words appear after the noun, a hyphen is usually not necessary: the child was two years old. However, some compound modifiers are permanently hyphenated, such as first-class, well-known, part-time, and old-fashioned. Check a dictionary to be sure.


Hyphen Rules to Remember

  • Do hyphenate a compound modifier before a noun. (She ran a home-based business.)
  • Do hyphenate permanent compounds before or after a noun (The office was old-fashioned.)
  • Do not hyphenate combinations including adverbs that end in ly (Our newly decorated offices look great.)
  • Do not add hyphens involving prefixes such as non, pre, over, and super (nonabrasive, nonbearing, preseason, overpaid, and supersmart).

Add or delete hyphens as appropriate in the following sentences. Mark “C” if a sentence is correct.

  1. Managers must revise the company’s five year business plan.
  2. The commission will consider every taxpayer inquiry on a case by case basis.
  3. We sought up to date information from the consultant who was well known for his expertise.
  4. Only a highly regarded architect will be considered for the proposed building.
  5. The contract included a number of non-binding but important suggestions.
  6. All employees participate in on the job training after being hired.
  7. The doctor’s receptionist made a follow up appointment for next month.
  8. It is the receptionist’s job to follow up after a doctor performs some procedures.
  9. Even the most commonly used ingredients were unavailable after the storm.
  10. Although I worked only part time, I was given two weeks of vacation time.
  11. Antonio used his two week vacation to travel to Alaska.
  12. Attorneys provided many documents in the pre-trial period of the case.
  13. We were afraid the manager would give another long winded speech.
  14. If you follow the step by step instructions, you will have no trouble assembling the bicycle.
  15. Most speakers provide a question and answer period after they finish.

Handling Hyphens Exercise

Handling Hyphens Key


Embracing Effective Altruism to Gain Career Satisfaction

Many people want to spend their work lives in a field that makes a positive impact on the world. Some opt to teach. Others work in the health professions or NGOs. But a relatively new movement called Effective Altruism is changing how those who want to do good pick a career.

Effective Altruism (EA) is a philosophy and movement that uses evidence, including hard data, that highlights the best ways to benefit others. The movement took shape in the late 2000s when Oxford philosophers Toby Ord and William MacAskill formed a community that in 2011 assumed the name Centre for Effective Altruism. Philosopher Peter Singer’s 2013 TED talk The Why and How of Effective Altruism helped the movement gain traction.

Originally the movement encouraged those who wanted to help alleviate the world’s ills to work in lucrative careers so they could donate to causes such as global poverty alleviation, animal welfare, and global catastrophic risks. Today the EA movement is linked with an NGO called 80,000 Hours, so named for the average number of hours worked over the course of a career. The idea behind 80,000 Hours is to help people connect their desire to do good with a job that uses their skills and talents. This notion appeals to workers who may currently hold jobs that do not directly address social problems as well as to new workers who want to begin their careers in positions where they can see the impact of their work.

EA and 80,000 Hours work in sync. While EA principles drive job candidates to focus on careers that will have a high impact in the long term, 80,000 Hours matches its clients with the best personal fit in a job that does good. Its staff consults with clients to guide them to the kinds of jobs that will have the greatest effect on an individual’s chosen social cause.

For example, a person who wants to end homelessness would be directed away from a career as a social worker who deals with individual cases. Instead, advisors at 80,000 Hours would encourage the client to take a completely different track by, say, working at a startup devoted to solving homelessness in ways that will affect more people than one social worker ever could.

The organization pinpoints what an individual should do to end up in the high-impact position. This may entail more education, a career pivot, or a way to work with the job one has to better serve the world at large.

Students still unsure about what they want to do with their lives just may want to research EA and 80,000 Hours.


  1. What are the ways a job in an altruistic field could provide satisfaction to an employee?
  2. Visit the EA website at and read about its purpose. Do you think the ideas espoused could help you direct your skills and abilities to work in an EA field?
  3. Now examine and look at its job board. If any postings interest you, what can you do now to work toward qualifying for that position?