One of the most challenging (and frustrating) tasks as a teacher is managing emails. So. Many. Emails. We’re inundated with emails from co-workers, administrators, parents, and now, our students. This access to instant communication has improved so many areas of teaching and learning. But, it’s not a given that it will result in successful communication, especially for our students. Just because they know what email is, doesn’t mean they know how to send an effective email. They need to learn email etiquette!
However, a quick lesson in email etiquette can teach your students how to send effective emails, prepare for real world communication, and end the text-message email frustration. In today’s post, I’m going to give three tips for teaching email etiquette so it sticks!
Tip 1: Review Purpose
The first aspect of teaching email etiquette is explaining its purpose versus other forms of written communication. Specifically, I like to cover the difference in purpose between an email and a text message. Because secondary students are so familiar with text messaging, they can start their comparison with what they know. Then, they can move into the differences with email.
Ultimately, a discussion in formality is important. Therefore, discussing scenarios could be a great way to show when a text message makes sense versus when a situation calls for a more formal email.
Tip 2: Use an Exemplary Example
Considering this discussion in formality, students next can benefit from seeing an example of what an effective email looks like. Since the formatting is different from both an essay and text message, students need to learn the block formatting.
Still, it’s not just about formatting. Analyzing the content of an exemplary example can be a great way to emphasize the formality of an email. I like to use an example that would be relevant to students’ email needs. For example, a thank you email to a teacher or an email to a college admissions’ representative.
Tip 3: Teach Technical Uses (and Mistakes)
How many times have you embarrassingly received a reply all email…that wasn’t supposed to be a reply all? These types of mistakes can happen all too easily. Therefore, one of the most important aspects of teaching email etiquette is understanding how to send an email appropriately.
With to, carbon copy, blind carbon, forward, reply, and reply all options, email can be quite confusing (and even embarrassing if done wrong). Explaining how each of these technical elements works is vital to set up students for success in the real world.
Tip 4: Put It Into Practice
One of my favorite ways to make email etiquette stick is having students put what they learned into practice. First, I give them a real-world scenario, something they’d encounter in the near future. This ensures that they understand the purpose and format. Then, the next step requires that they actually send an email to practice the technical parts.
I like to use fun and engaging scenarios, and I actually have them email me for practice. One tip is to have them work in groups, so you’re not overwhelmed with even more emails!
Here are some examples:
- Your mom and dad asked you to email your aunt an apology. Write an email to your aunt apologizing for missing Sunday dinner at her house. Blind copy your mom and dad, so they know you sent it.
- You received an email from a college coach asking for your high school transcripts. Reply to the email by attaching the transcript and copy your high school guidance counselor.
- You are working with a group on a project, and you have a question for your teacher. Email your teacher to ask the question. Copy all of your group members so they can be in the loop.
For More Information
Teaching email etiquette is a great way to save your own frustration and prepare your students for your class and the real-world.
If you’d like to use my exact mini-lesson with a student visual note guide, teacher slideshow, and scenarios practice. The entire unit is editable so you can tweak it to the needs of your students.