The use of e-mail is certainly nothing new, but the dependence on e-mail as a sole or main method of communication in public schools is still reletively new, especially if you are using it with your students or parents. Communication is great and needs to be done to foster and maintain positive relationships with the adults and children who are involved in your classroom. However there are some inherent flaws to using email as your sole vehicle for communicating.
The example shown in the video above may be extreme, but it happens daily in schools where too little time to interact and plan with the adults in the buildings leads to runaway, hijacked emails that go on and on forever. If you are sent an informational email, unless the sender explicitly asks for a response via email, don’t respond. Read the content, process what it is you need to know or do, and then delete/file the email away. Do not reply all, “Thanks.” You’ve just sent a whole building of teachers another email to read for the sole purpose of thanking someone. If you really feel you must thank the person sending the email, hit reply to sender and thank them, but it truly isn’t necessary to thank every person who sends you an email. Do it in person, I am sure they’d rather see your smile when you thank them anyway.
Which leads us to another common email issue, there is no emotion involved in email. If you send it via email, it is up for reader interpretation. It is hard enough to understand humans at times when you are face to face having a conversation. Can you imagine how difficult is it to read words in an email, having no signs (bady language and facial reactions), and know exactly what a person is thinking of feeling when they send that email? And if you find yourself wondering if the tone of your email is going to be read the wrong way, it most likely will… if you can’t read it without wondering how it sounds, someone else most certainly will wonder as well. Even people you know well, can errantly read meaning in an email so whenever possible avoid writing about emotional topics on email, stick to the facts.
When sending batch emails home to parents, have you ever considered that you are essentially giving each parent access to the other parents’ email addresses in your class? What if a particular parent doesn’t want his/her email made available to the bulk of the parents involved in your classroom? An easy work around for this is add each parents’ email address in the blindcopy section of the email. This will allow each parent to receive the email with only your email address being shared to all.
DO YOU LIKE READING WHEN SOMEONE TYPES IN ALL CAPS? Most people don’t because universally it means that the person typing the email is yelling what is being typed. Please bear this in mind when you are sending emails. The only things that should be in caps are proper nouns, beginnings of sentences, and acronyms.
Most importantly remember that there is a time and place for face to face conversations. It may take a little more leg work and some time, but the effort will pay off in the lack of what’s lost between your mind, the key strokes, and the reception of an email.