Professional looking for pro opinion


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Old 04-05-09, 01:33 AM
R
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Professional looking for pro opinion

As some of you may know from these forums, I've been installing eavestrough on a full time basis for over 6 years. I'm going to college to get a diploma in residential site supervision, and am having trouble with a teacher in one of my classes.

It's mandatory that I take a communications class, which is basically English class. I'm hoping some of the pros on this site can review a paper I wrote that was supposed to be addressed to another eavestrough pro, and give an opinion on some of the comments given by this teacher.

The following is an excerpt from my paper. The teacher's comments are in red:

I have been installing eavestrough on a full time basis for about 5 years, and in that time I have learned a lot of tricks of the trade. There are a few aspects of the job that I sometimes find challenging that I think someone more experienced than myself may be able to provide insight to. Sadly there are very few up to date resources for someone looking for the technical information I need. Understandably, many people who I have asked are secretive about some of their techniques, not wanting to give away their best tricks. Hopefully you can clear up some of these questions for me.

1. What do you find is the best caulking for underwater applications? Teacher: Why would you have eavestroughs under water?
2. What brand of ladder do you find is most stable on sloped or uneven ground?
3. What kind of boots do you prefer for long work days?
Teacher: These don't seem like expert questions
I won't bias any answers with further comment, but if anyone has any thoughts about the teacher's comments, good or bad, input would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 04-05-09, 06:27 AM
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Hi Rob,

Sorry to hear about your problems with the teacher. I take it she's not type Van Halen sang about in "hot for teacher". LOL (I'm assuming it's a she... not stereotyping, of course...)

I guess maybe the teacher doesn't know that sealants for use in gutters (sorry, eavestroughs) need to be rated for "underwater use". Maybe you could ask if his/her gutters have ever been plugged? They tend to hold water. So on your first point, you should just let him/her know that since gutters hold WATER, the caulking needs to be waterproof and rated for underwater applications. Doing that in a non-condescending way will probably be the hardest part of your communications class. She will probably come back with, "well why didn't you just say waterproof?" You can then explain that the 2 are not the same. Your eloquence, knowledge and tact may impress her.

Maybe you should just carbon-copy the paper... and write your answers/explanations to her questions, and return it. Explain that when one professional speaks to another, they often don't ask technical questions that they already know the answers to. (Dude, how much slope do you put on your gutters???) They ask things that might help them personally... might be better than what they currently use... might give them some insight based on THEIR experience. Like the boots... Imagine you're working out in the snow, installing all day- what boots stay dry and warm, and are still comfortable... or are light... or a good value? What type of gloves enable you to have warm hands, but still find a screw in your nail apron? Or sometimes we just ask the questions to size them up- to see how knowledgeable or experienced they really are... kind of like at a job interview. (So... how would you go about this or that?)

Maybe you could look at this as just being a test of your communication skills. Contractors do need to learn to communicate well in difficult situations where you may really need to think about what the "right thing to say" is on the spur of the moment. Practicing good responses on paper might help you do the same thing in person. So I say, write her back.
 
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Old 04-05-09, 06:53 AM
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Hi Rob, I'm not an expert, but since you were so helpful the other day with my roofing issue maybe I can provide some input. Take it or leave it, for what it's worth.

1st comment they made... I'm guessing that your teacher is in a roundabout way saying that the word "underwater" isn't clear enough for the reader, and assumes that the reader can infer what you are asking. While you and I can understand that "underwater" means a surface to be caulked that is exposed to water most/all of the time, perhaps there would be a clearer way to ask this (i.e. don't make the reader work for it). In trying to get this across to you, I'm guessing, the teacher opted to bluntly ask the question they did rather than explain that 'jargon' (i.e. underwater) shouldn't be used in this situation? Would have been nicer if the teacher had just explained what they meant, rather than making YOU work for it. Just my thoughts at first reading.

2nd comment they made... I'm thinking that the teacher is saying your questions perhaps need more focus with regards to your specific trade.

The question about boots is more of a personal preference question, rather than a trade specific one. I paint, but you and I are both up on ladders. My friend installs sprinklers, and all three of us are up on ladders all the time. The brand/type of boots we all wear are important to us but the same question could be asked of a teacher or stock trader. Methinks they wanted something specific to your trade as your letter was intended to be addressed to another eavestrough installer.

The question about ladders is somewhat vague, as an expert might be assumed to know what type (not brand) of ladder/platform is appropriate given the particular circumstance. (i.e. extension, scaffold, step, etc.) You're asking another expert something that both of you might be expected to know already.

Rob, those are just my comments. Take them for what they're worth. I'm just a dumb painter (we get no respect!). As far as the teachers comments go, they could use a communications class themselves. Their blunt and uninformative feedback provides no clarity or expectations of what they were hoping to see.

Maybe they were hoping to see questions addressing something more global to your specific trade? Industry wide?

Anyhoo, for a Sunday morning before noon...that's the best I've got.

Regards. Bill.
 
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Old 04-05-09, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for the responses guys. This thread started me as me venting, but your replies have given me something to think about.

I'll do my best to keep cool while explaining my problems to the teacher.

I think I was really set off by her "why would you have eavestrough under water" comment, it's going to be difficult to get her to explain that without being condescending, but I'll try.


Thanks again

Rob
 
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Old 04-05-09, 01:56 PM
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Your questions could be more direct.
1. Teachers are book-smart, most I know aren't very street-smart. Notice I said "I know".
They wouldn't realize any difference here (have not read that book on caulk applications).

2. What ladder brand with what features for what application?

3. Most teachers have not worn boots for 35 years in the field, as I, so they assume all boots are created equal. Boots for material type of roof, wet or dry roof, steep or shallow pitch, etc. Long work days, compared to what? How long? 14 hours? Yikes!!!

Be safe, GBR
 
 

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