Digital Citizenship: Emailing is the Best Policy

School teachers and administrators receive dozens of communications every day in various forms, be they phone calls, text messages, or emails. In many cases, a well written email is the best way of communicating with school personnel. Here are 3 advantages of sending a professional email to your child’s teacher or administrator.

One of the greatest advantages of email is that it’s asynchronous: the recipient can check it when she has time; she doesn’t have to stop what she’s doing to respond to you, like with a phone call. Even a text message can make a person feel like a quick response is necessary. Of course, if the issue is an emergency, a phone call or a text message is most likely a better way to communicate. By the way, the issue is not necessarily an emergency simply because you have strong feelings about it. If a quick solution is not relevant or possible, it is not an emergency, which means email is probably the best way to go about communicating.

The second great thing about an email is that it acts as a natural paper trail. Have you ever had a disagreement with someone about exactly what was said in a particular conversation? With email, you can go back and refer to the text to find out exactly what was said. This advantage also exists with text messages, if you have your phone set to save your message threads But this grows more and more difficult with longer conversations, or with people with whom you regularly communicate via text.

The third advantage of sending a professional email is it provides a buffer for the sender. This can be especially important if you are trying to address an issue that is not necessarily emergent, but that you feel strongly about. I can’t tell you how many times parents have addressed an issue in an inappropriate way, saying things they didn’t really mean, and even going so far as to insult members of the school faculty and staff simply because they were angry in the moment. An email will give you the chance to think about what you’re saying before you hit send, and really decide if that is what you want to say. As they say, “you can’t unring a bell.” In the same way, you can never really take something back once it is said. Use email to give you the buffer you need between your feelings and expressing them appropriately.

Email is often the best way of communicating with school personnel because the recipient can check it and respond when there’s time; it serves as a natural paper trail; and it provides an emotional buffer for you so you don’t say something you don’t really mean. Add to that the fact that many schools now have policies about how often personnel must check their email and you can see why email can be the most effective method of communicating with your child’s school.