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Email is a tricky beast to tame. In today’s society, email etiquette (OK, etiquette in general) seems to be thrown out the window on a daily basis. With the use of smartphones as our main communication tools, email formality and accountability seem to be going downhill even faster. In addition, email can take up a ton of your precious TIME, especially at work. When you started teaching art, I bet no one told you a good chunk of your day would be spent managing your email account!
This is the general rule of thumb. You will want to be especially careful if the message is from a parent or administrator. Just because you are a busy teacher with very little desk time doesn’t leave you exempt from replying to emails.
It seems like a constant battle to be taken seriously as an art teacher. Don’t let your email writing style hinder your professionalism. The first time you correspond with someone, you should always use the person’s name followed by a comma. Hit return before you start your message. In the same vein, sign your name at the end with a complimentary close such as “Thanks” or “Talk with you soon.” If you’re going back and forth with someone multiple times, it’s OK to let those parts go, but make sure you use them the first time!
Keep the “Title” line short and sweet, use grammar and punctuation and avoid Caps Lock. IT MEANS YOU ARE SHOUTING! Texting lingo has no place in your emails, especially at school, no matter how casually someone else writes to you.
If you don’t want someone reading it, don’t write it in an email.
It’s tempting to check email with students in the room. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. If you’ve ever typed an email with your pinkies because your hands were full of clay, you know what I am talking about! However, I urge you to check emails when it’s quiet and you have time to focus, or you may reply too quickly or forget to reply entirely. Multitasking can come back to haunt us.
Are you proud to say you have 2,385 emails in your inbox? Cluttered email makes you feel a sense of urgency at all times. It makes you feel like you’ve missed something (you probably did). Sorry guys! To help, try this awesome method I found called “Inbox Zero.” The system uses folders within your email to organize messages until you are ready for them. This has transformed the way I use email.
Often after a long and taxing day, I would flop into my desk chair to check email for “just a minute.” Without fail, I would get stuck there and never get up to do anything else. My classroom was still a mess, with paintbrushes waiting in the sink. Nothing got done! If you check some of your emails at home, you can use your school time more wisely for tasks you can only complete while in the classroom. Save things like cutting paper and washing brushes for school hours!
We’ve all been there. You read an email while waiting to pick your son up from baseball practice. You make a mental note to reply, but then you get distracted and never do! Set aside some time at your actual desk or computer to devote to work emails each day and then be done with them.
Facebook messenger and email are two very separate platforms. If someone sends you an email, respond with an email! It goes without saying that it should be sent from the same email account in which you received the initial correspondence. Not following this rule is a surefire way to “lose” your emails.
Email is a necessary evil for the foreseeable future. By using these tips you can stop stressing about your email and get to the good stuff, making art!
What are your biggest annoyances with email?
What are other tips you have to keep email clutter at bay while teaching art?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.