Dean’s Assembly – Email Etiquette

email-etiquetteThe feature presentation topic of this assembly comes from how it is increasingly common that you contact teachers through email outside of class. I feel personally like I spend more time responding to your emails than I do your parents and caregivers (which is a good thing – I think it shows you are taking more responsibility for your learning). However, I’ve become aware of the sometimes completely ridiculous and inappropriate way that our year group can use email. There have been some shockers over the years sent to staff. Today I want to bring to your attention some of these common mistakes and share with you some guidelines that might help prevent future errors.

I want to acknowledge that some of you are superb emailers. You use the medium appropriately and to you benefit – however, these fundamentals are worth being reminded of so hopefully some of this is useful. If not to you, then there’s a high probability that your friend sitting next to you could definitely use this advice.

To avoid writing emails like these, there are some simple rules to follow. If followed, it will result in more helpful replies from your teachers and better support for you.

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate

This is number one because while I’m saying that there have been some inappropriate emails sent with terrible manners and totally the wrong tone, the fact that you are communicating is positive. It is so important that you communicate your learning needs and ask questions to clarify so that you can improve and grow. Something you might want to reflect on is whether email is the right medium to communicate some of your questions. If you think the response is a long answer, perhaps an in-person conversation would be better. If more than just you would benefit from the answer, perhaps this is something you should be asking in class, or using any online class group forum that your class might have. Or is your teacher the right person to ask? Have you checked with a classmate, or is the information already available on one of the documents in your drive or on moodle?

  1. Be polite, courteous and grateful

Courtesy means sometimes just spelling the person’s name that you are emailing correctly. It also means ensuring that you have a polite and grateful tone. Use your manners and double check the tone of your text.

  1. Be specific and to the point

A lot of teachers have reported to be that they get generic emails that as for “help” and don’t actually ask for anything specific. What I recommend is that you take the time to reflect and consider what you are actually asking for. Instead of saying “I’m struggling with writing the essay,” say “I’m struggling to find quotes that reinforce the points I want to make in my essay.” Being specific helps us to help you and it ensures that everyone is being efficient with their time. Furthermore, be efficient by being too the point. If the email is long – it is probably the wrong medium, maybe it needs to be said in person.

  1. Follow email conventions

Make sure you always follow the conventions. Write an accurate and succinct subject line telling us what the email is about. Open up the email by addressing the person you are emailing. Make a polite statement to open or close the email like “thanks for the resources on…” or “hope you are having a good weekend” – just because those kind of manners and politeness will take you far if you are showing appreciation for the person that you are asking something of. Also finish the email with kind regards, thanks, or cheers – again something polite and finally sign off with your name. And then double check to make sure you’ve done all this as well as checking your spelling, grammar and punctuation is all correct!

  1. Hold Back the Emotion

I’m talked about this in previously Dean’s Assemblies on topics like Digital Citizenship. The written medium is powerful because it cannot be erased. Facebook never forgets; Instagram never forgets; even snapchat never forgets, and email is no exception. Sending highly charged emotional emails is never going to work out in your favour. I’m a big fan of writing down your thoughts to get them clearly expressed, but make sure you are completely calm and rational before pressing send. Often an in person conversation is a far better strategy.

  1. Reasonable Expectations

The last thing I want to add on this is that your expectations or teachers and their emailing needs to be reasonable. To be explicit – getting a reply in the weekend or the holidays should never be expected. Nor late in the evenings. You are welcome to email us at any time, but make sure you aren’t expecting any of your teachers to be on call. This means planning ahead and meeting checkpoints in class so that you don’t end up having last minute questions! For further information can be found online about this topic. There are lots of guides to email etiquette that will help you get this right.

Finally today – three last things:

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