Goodness, gracious! Email can both help us stay in control–and give us the sense that we are out of control. To help get some control over your email, put one or all of the following ideas into place.
Open your email only a specified number of times each day(vs. having it on constantly). Even if you open it once an hour, that’s an improvement over having it on 100% of the time.
Only open your email if you have time to process/deal with what isthere. What so often happens with educators is that you have a spare moment between classes and then you dash in to see what’s in your inbox. You don’t really have time to deal with any of the emails that are in there, but just seeing them gives you a sense of dread and heaviness–because you know you have all those to handle when you finally do sit down to try to power through them. It’s generally not a feeling of lightness.
Set up and use all the “rules” you possibly can to sift and sort your email. If you don’t know how to do this with your program (Outlook, Eudora, Groupwise, or some other), then ask someone who does. Each little tip you can use makes a difference. Think about having one tip or technique for using email “rules” shared at each faculty meeting.
Use a clear, pertinent, succinct subject line(and this may be the whole message). For example: “IEP meeting Tuesday afternoon is canceled.” If this is indeed the entire message, then putEOMwhich means End of Message to let the reader know they don’t even have to open the email.
Use agreed-upon abbreviations to indicate the end of an email exchange. Two widely used and recognized examples areNNTR(No Need to Respond) orNRN(No Response Necessary). Use that with some of the emails that you are sending out if it’s the truth. And if you see these on someone else’s email, then offer an amendment: “I understand that you also have reporters in the classroom. I’ll send out a note when we meet.”
Stop email ping-pong(also known as “boomerang email”). This is what happens when an email is sent to request a parent’s phone number for example. The phone number is sent back. Then the phone number sender gets another email saying, “no response, please call Back.” The phone number caller does not know the phone number sender or have the number requested. A savvy teacher will have a separate phone number bucket listed on your website for phone numbers that you specifically have encouraged students to call.
Have a “throwaway” email address(from hotmail or yahoo, for example). There are times you may want to have an email address that you use just so you can get into a specific website. You don’t really want to show that website to anyone, do you? Having a legit email address that you use just so you can get into a site is a real waste of time. So, just have a well-known, short email address such as [email protected] where no one can access it. Reasonably-answerable questions (FAQs) are a great for this purpose.
Schedule a phone appointment(s) to get more input from parents and others with relevant experience about how to plan your instruction. Have specific questions about behavior you are teaching should be far more answers than you have space for.
Tend to the “rote” (teach, tutor, advocate, contribute, and train). Remember that teaching and coaching can be very touchy-feely and people may “hurt feelings” through what you do and say. There will be times when a question arises that is not appropriate for a staff meeting and you are going to be none too pleased to tell them that it was all a bunch of malarkey. Again, try to organize a tangible process (ie. use actual teaching/coaching process) instead of an emotional one (feeling).
Two suitors can’t teach school unless they understand and respect the different ways adults process information – and that includes the ways they learn. Don’t treat the adults as if they were children or fill their shoes.
Recognize that “no one is a perfect teacher” and that we all make mistakes because we are all learning-blacksmiths.
Help your students and colleagues learn about how to address issues (blackmail, fear, anger, anxiety) so that constructive learning can take place.
use empowering strategies that support them as they explore and grow as learners.
Strategy #2: Provide Social Opportunities
In every school district, funds are generally low. The students and teachers that are most in demand are often also the most educated.