Down here in south Louisiana, we’ve already finished our third week of school. I love the beginning of the school year (new kids! new ideas to try out! a fresh set of flair pens!), but I wasn’t expecting my email inbox to already be chockablock full of emails from students. (Mental note: teach students the art of a good subject line.)
And I might be “that” teacher, but 95 percent of the time I don’t email my students back. Why, you ask? Because these are the types of emails I get and the way I would respond, indicated in brackets and italics, if I actually had time to respond and could be completely honest in my responses.
- You put my grade in wrong in PowerSchool. [I, in fact, did not put the grade in incorrectly in PowerSchool. You very much made a 72 percent on the test that I JUST entered into the gradebook 60 seconds ago. Stop checking your grades and emailing me while you’re in Algebra.]
- Why did you give me an 80 on the writing assignment? [I didn’t GIVE you anything. I assessed you for mastery of the skills. I JUST entered grades into the gradebook 60 seconds ago. Don’t you think I’m going to explain scoring when I HAND THE ASSIGNMENTS BACK?]
- I submitted my late assignment from a week ago. Can you grade it right now so my mom will give me my phone back? [Oh sure, I’ll stop grading these 106 narrative retellings that are test grade assignments so you don’t have a zero for a participation assignment when you already have an A in participation.]
- This is the third email I’ve sent you telling you to grade my late assignment. [I’m sorry, but as per my syllabus that I read to you on the first day of school and made you sign, it says that I grade all late work after current work is graded. I’m knee deep in grading the Hero’s Journey test from yesterday, the rewrites from two days ago, and the complex character exit tickets that I forgot existed until 30 minutes ago. I’ve reiterated loudly at least three times this week that it can take me up to two weeks to get to any late work and that I won’t respond to emails like these. You’ll know it’s graded when it goes in PowerSchool. If you wanted your grade entered in a timely fashion, then maybe you should have turned it in on time? In fact, since you sent me this email, I’ll more than likely put off entering the grade for another three weeks because you keep spamming my inbox.]
- Can I have an extra day to do the assignment? I wasn’t feeling well yesterday. [No. The other kids ratted you out. You were all over everybody’s SnapChat last night being messy and not sick at all.]
- I’m going to be absent all of next week because we’re going to Disney World. Can you email me all of my assignments? [You and I both know that you will not complete any of this work while you’re on vacation. And I’m pretty sure you’re just emailing me this because your parents asked you to. But you probably weren’t supposed to tell me that you were going on vacation–because even though your parents asked you to email me for the work, they’re also going to try to get a doctor’s note to excuse your absences for your competitive cheer competition. And I can’t email you all of the assignments for next week because I haven’t made any of them yet, LOL. I’m not panicking at all about that. Not even a little bit. But you sending me this email did make me start panicking about it. And you and I both know that those assignments will be posted on Google Classroom on the day that we do them in class with full instructions on how to do the lesson on your own. Have a Dole Whip for me.]
So I don’t respond because
- I like my job. And I’m pretty sure I’d get fired if I responded that way.
- Some of the student emails are pretty accusatory. “You didn’t do this” and “you did this wrong.” But I know that stems from students not understanding the tone behind these statements in email.
- I’ve answered these questions before in class or I’m going to explain those questions the next day.
But I actually do respond. Just not in an email. I stop them in the hall or pull them aside for a quick chat about what they sent me–because talking and interacting with them is important and way easier. I can quickly address how their tone in the email made me feel and that they might want to choose better words. I can explain their question in person. And I can do all of this while not having to revise my emails for tone. And I don’t have to spell check/Grammarly/proofread my conversation with them either.
And the emails that are important I do respond to, professionally.
(Now all I want in life is a Dole Whip. Why did I even bring it up? Sigh.)