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Modern Etiquette - being polite

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by neddyfonk, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Heads, by definition are very busy people but many times in the last 6 years as a governor I have made several casual inquiries on email about things that the four heads I have 'worked' for apparently found not worth bothering to respond to. The latest was a casual request if the school was interested in having some tadpoles from my garden pond for children to watch as they develop. I supply a small tank and offer to release them back into the wild later on. I asked two heads and neither said yes, no, or gave a reason why they did not like/need my offer. Am I being oversensitive?
    P.S. they now have back legs and shortly due to be rehomed in some nearby wetlands.
    HelenREMfan likes this.
  2. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    Well, your role as a governor is not to act as an individual, you are part of a collective (like the borg).

    Emails to the head, however casual, would not be welcome. You are not there to be part of the day to day management of the school.

    Perhaps you can make your suggestion at the next governor meeting.
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    True, but I don't think neddyfonk's offer of tadpoles was made in his capacity as a governor so it didn't need a governing body resolution before being made.

    I'd just put it down to head's being busy, especially at this time of year neddyfonk, but I take your point. Head's email inboxes can fill up with pages of 'offers' every day.
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Heads have loads of major things to deal with, and they don't want their time taken up with finding out which class teacher might like some tadpoles. If you go into the school, mention it to a class teacher or two, or perhaps the receptionist, or give the receptionist a bit of paper to stick on the staffroom noticeboard saying "if any teacher would like some tadpoles, give me a call". If you have access to the school's curriculum plan, you might be able to spot a year group they might be particularly useful to.
  5. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Some of the heads I have worked with have been spectacularly rude. Not responding to staff requests for changes to hours at all.......even a no would be better than just ignoring staff.
    neddyfonk likes this.
  6. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    Head teachers can get dozens of emails a day. They don't have time to respond to them all so a good head will prioritise responding to the most important ones. The rest will get deleted or (if suitable) sent to the admin staff or specific teachers to deal with. If heads responded to every single email, they'd have very little time left for interacting with the staff or pupils! Frustrum's suggestions are good and more likely to get a positive response than emailing a busy head teacher with kind offers of things that aren't, in the grand scheme of things, very important. You're not being ignored, neddyfonk, it's just that the head teachers are probably snowed because it's coming towards the end of term and they have so many things to deal with before the holidays start.

    To avoid the risk of spreading chytrid fungus, are you making sure to put the tadpoles back where they came from?
    neddyfonk likes this.
  7. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Unlikely my frogs are a threat to any others as they are bred from a closed community that colonised my pond over ten years ago.
  8. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    I also know a head who never receives emails directly. They are all fielded by the school business manager who decides which ones to forward.
  9. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    In retirement e-mail etiquette drives me mad. Sometimes people just don't reply or say "Oh I only look at my email once a week!" Would they leave letters lying on the doormat - would they?? Would they??
    Sorry - probably better posted on Retirement, but the title touched a nerve :)
    sunshineneeded likes this.
  10. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    If it looks like a bill or a bank letter, no. If it looks like anything else that isn't either important or urgent, I put them to one side and deal with them when I feel like it and have time (usually at the weekend).
  11. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    I always respond. It may take a few days but I do. I think it is rude to not even politely decline so no you're not being oversensitive.
    I'm surprised that the emails haven't at least been passed in to lower ranking staff to deal with and I'm sorry you've been ignored more than once.
  12. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    I always respond. It may take a few days but I do. I think it is rude to not even politely decline so no you're not being oversensitive.
    I'm surprised that the emails haven't at least been passed in to lower ranking staff to deal with and I'm sorry you've been ignored more than once.
    neddyfonk likes this.
  13. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    I'm sure in the days before email, you'd have had a reply. Mind you, back then, the head would have been more interested in doing learning walks to enjoy seeing little uns enthused by tadpoles than doing Learning Walks to annoy/upset/get rid of good teachers.
    Remember before we had mobiles and people actually turned up on time if they'd agreed to meet someone. My millennial niece complained about this!
    abacus1982 likes this.
  14. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    It would just be a full inbox and priority. Plus, keeping boundaries around the role of a governor. Best to email such offers to the office@ email address. I’d forward such offers to other staff to deal with and would encourage emails with such content to not be sent to me.
    In addition, animals in school also means a pile of risk assessments and letters to parents.
  15. Nobother

    Nobother New commenter

    Where I work, I generally tend to just ignore the head on trivial matters. If it's later questioned, I just say it didn't seem like something that was a bother.
    I once bought in a new sticker chart, he didn't like it and wanted me to change the criteria for getting a star. I just said no as it was working brilliantly and he didn't know what he was talking about. The chart is still going strong a couple of years later and the kids love it.
  16. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    As a Head last year I would receive or send around 100 emails a day . . . . I routinely binned many from organisations but I would be horrified if any colleague, parent or Governor ever felt I had just ignored one from them. Even if as suggested above it may have not been the best of ideas to contact the Head on such an issue - it should be common decency to reply to an individual
    sunshineneeded likes this.
  17. KentishMaid2

    KentishMaid2 New commenter

    I wouldnt consider ignoring offers of tadpoles as "rude" ! I feel that getting an unprofessional reply is more of a problem .
    I started as a school governor in 2012 all bright eyed and online learning enabled . I was under a Chair who heavily subscribed to the pre-2010 "Mr Grace" School of Governance ( you've all done very well).....When the first requirements for governors to scrutinise Performance Related pay appeared I EMAILED the Head, Chair and a new employment law solicitor governor that we should be ahead and get the solicitor to review the guidelines so we could minute it in the Main GB minutes. I also suggested in the same email we should start reporting formally on the new SPorts PRemium funding ( before that was mandatory) ....The Chair EMAILED me back for a meeting at the school with the Head where they basically told me to back off and stop interfering as it was upsetting the head. A few months later wen I stepped up to be Chair of Teaching and Learning Committee I EMAILED some suggestions for the Agenda for the meeting ; again I was called in for a "pre-meeting" by EMAIL from another governor at the request of the head ( this governor was an ex head teacher) who told me that " the school wasn't used to competent governance".

    So there's far worse things than the head or chair ignoring your non-strategic emails I can assure you.

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