Email is one of the hardest things to try to coach teachers about. Most have had personal email accounts for years. So they think they know how to use email. Try to suggest that folks sit down with you to learn to use Outlook (the program our school division uses for email), and they look at you as if they can’t believe the insult that you’ve just delivered. The unfortunate thing is, most really don’t know how to optimize their use of Outlook and aren’t aware of basic email etiquette either. You find out who needs help when you get an email that just isn’t quite right or you get an “inbox full” message, or the administrator tells you to go help the person with email. I’m not sure how other folks coach teachers through email use, but I usually do a few things:
- Go visit when I get an “email full” message. Typically these folks are trying to keep everything because they don’t really know other ways to save what is important. I offer to teach these folks to create folders, save the attachments to a flash drive so they can delete the email it came with, and archive email.
- Don’t act on email that lacks basic etiquette. Generally, these folks want something. If what they want is limited in scope, holding off for a few days won’t really matter. Eventually without a response they come to seek me out. This is my opportunity to tell them that I was waiting to see them first so that I could discuss “email manners”. Sometimes this can be a touchy conversation, so using “I statements” I explain the effect of their lack of etiquette on the recipient. Using humor also works here…It’s not so bad if we end up with a good laugh.
- Add email tips in coaching sessions. When a teacher makes an appointment for coaching, I try to get a “value added” feel for the session adding a few things that they didn’t come for, so they feel that their time was well spent even if what they set out to accomplish doesn’t get done. Email tips are usually a big win.
- Send out an annual “Email Tips” message. I try to vary the message each year, pulling from different sources.
After I sent out my annual email this year, we coaches got an assignment: Lead a ten-minute session on a technology topic. I had originally thought about discussing elementary Flipped Classroom strategies, but changed my mind and decided to summarize LifeHacker approaches to email. So I’ve included my notes here for you and my presentation (it’s the first time I’ve used Haiku Deck, so go easy on me…)
How do you help teachers with email?
My notes: Lifehacker on email
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app