Home      Organizing Induction      Improving Practice   

Tool: Managing e-mail messages

E-mail is becoming a quick and convenient way for busy professionals to communicate with families. It frees everyone from having to make contacts at specified times and provides a written record of date, time and content of the contact.

First, you will need to find out whether your families have access to e-mail, and if so, whether it is an efficient and useful way to contact them. As part of gathering other information about families in the early days of school, you may decide to send home a communication preference form.

Making connections: Communication preference form


Student’s name: ________________________________________

Family member #1: _________________ Relation to student: ___________

Home phone : ___________  Work phone: _____________

Cell phone: ___________ E-mail address (please print): _________________

How would you prefer to be contacted?__Home__Work__Cell phone___E-mail

When would you prefer to be contacted? (days/times)___________________

If you do not have access to phone or e-mail, how may I contact you? ____________________________________________________________________________

Family member #2: ____________________ Relation to student: ___________

Home phone : ___________  Work phone: _____________

Cell phone: ____________    E-mail address (please print): _________________

How would you prefer to be contacted? ___Home ___Work___Cell phone___E-mail

When would you prefer to be contacted? (days/times) _________________________

If you do not have access to phone or e-mail, how may I contact you? ____________

      ______________________________________________________________


Although many of us think of e-mail as an efficient way to communicate, there are some key issues to think through and communicate about with families. Use the checklist below to think about how you will use e-mail and how families will understand its uses.

 

E-Mail awareness checklist

  • What records should I keep?  E-mail makes it easy to keep track of your exchanges with parents, as long as you have a system for organizing and referencing them. Use the features of your e-mail system to create a way to track your correspondence. Or you may prefer to adapt some of the tools for Managing telephone conferences to organize your use of e-mail.
  • Which families have access to e-mail?  Be sure that your communication patterns do not favor those who use e-mail and disadvantage those who do not. You could use your e-mail records and the tools for Managing telephone conferences to compare and contrast how you are interacting with families and to investigate whether all families have regular communication with you.
  • What ground rules should be set? Once parents realize you use e-mail, they have the opportunity to send you messages 24-hours per day, 7 days per week. Be clear about how frequently you read school e-mail and how quickly they can expect you to respond. Once you or parents have sent an e-mail message, it becomes an electronic document that can be forwarded to anyone, or printed and distributed to others. Make a clear agreement with parents that e-mail messages are not to be forwarded or shown to others (including students) without getting direct permission from the author. When you are composing messages be aware that everyone may not honor that agreement.
  • What is appropriate e-mail etiquette? Whenever you are communicating with families in your role as a teacher, professional language should be used. Unlike the quick messages you send to friends and family that may have spelling errors or incomplete sentences, your messages to parents should be free of spelling and grammatical errors. 
  • When is e-mail not a helpful form of communication?  Don't assume that once a topic has been opened via an e-mail exchange you have to continue "discussing" it through e-mail. You may have sensitive information to share that should not be put in writing, or you may want more immediate feedback about the topic. Sometimes it is best to write back and say, "I think this subject is best discussed in person or by telephone. When could you meet with me? Or could we set up a phone conference?"

 

 

PDF version for printing .... MSWord version for revising .... RTF version for revising