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Student emails

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by sbkrobson, Apr 20, 2019.

  1. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    This is not a dilemma as such, but more "workplace" than "personal"
    Just wondering what others might do-

    Checking my school email account, as I chose today as my prep day ready for next week back at school, and I found several student emails regarding various holiday tasks. I should add, we do routinely communicate with students by email in our school, although I know in other schools this is not done at all.
    What are the pros and cons of responding today to the emails, given all the usual reasons not to use school emails during the holidays? Should we make exception to that rule for the children?
    Possibly overthinking this, because by the time I've written this post,I could have replied to two or three of them.
    However, I am actually quite conflicted as to whether to reply. What do others think? Do you respond to holiday homework queries during the actual holidays?
    (If you think it is relevant, I tend to get the queries from the diligent higher achievers in KS4, plus quite a few Y7s who seem to be trying to fill their time)
  2. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    absolutely not
    agathamorse and sbkrobson like this.
  3. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    I think it depends entirely on your personal preference. If it were me, I would respond immediately, knowing that I have saved myself from later tasks (I feel better when I know I’ve ‘done everything’ and have nothing hanging over me).

    Others consider their holiday time as sacrosanct might opt to wait until school recommences before responding.

    Either view is fine - whatever works for you...
  4. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I remember arriving at school at the beginning of term once getting mobbed in the hallway by a couple of students asking why I hadn't responded to their emails.

    My answer was because I hadn't reached my desk yet, to read them.

    They found this response incomprehensible.

    Unfortunately, other staff HAD read and answered emails in the holiday, creating the expectation that others would too, and leading to aggrieved students feeling that a lack of response to questions asked about homework and absolved them of all responsibility of completing said homework.
  5. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    you are just creating conflict for other staff if you do unreasonable things
    DIPS1, jiin71, drek and 2 others like this.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    If you are sending or responding to colleagues, then no reason not to respond to students.

    Do whatever suits you and support your colleagues in doing whatever suits them.
  7. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    I would reply, but I'm quite soft and would feel bad for not!
    Piranha and sbkrobson like this.
  8. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Occasional commenter

    If you reply be prepared for the follow up questions. Before you know it you'll be playing email ping pong with a dozen or so students. You need to draw a line somewhere. Draw it here and don't reply until you are in contracted hours of employment.
  9. mrkeys

    mrkeys Occasional commenter

    Set your email to send an out of office reply. I always did this as a matter of routine every Friday and every break.
  10. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I always made myself available to exam groups by e-mail over the Easter break to help with any problems they had with their revision. However, the rules were that problems had to be a specific point, not 'Can you explain electricity'. It could be a day or so before I replied and communication was only to be through the school e-mail system. I wouldn't respond to their personal e-mails. In all my years I only had one or two queries a year at most and years would pass with no one bothering. I always found it a strong card to be able to say to parents, 'Well, I did tell the group that they could contact me via e-mail over the break for help with revision but your son/daughter never contacted me.'
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    All excellent replies, thank you all so much for the expertise and different takes on it.
    I'm going to go with the "out of office" automated reply, thank you @mrkeys it's actually the one option which stupidly had not occurred to me. I like it because there is a response for the child rather than leaving them hanging, but that response also teaches them some healthy realism.
    I don't normally bring work queries here at all, simply because normally there are colleagues on hand to consult with at leisure, but obviously I cannot do that in the holidays.
    Perhaps I should suggest that we ought to have a policy about it, which is shared with the kids too. That way, nobody is undermining anybody else, as rightly suggested by @dunnocks.

    I suppose there's also a lesson to myself, that if I get so many queries then perhaps I need to look more carefully at how I am setting tasks...
    drek and dunnocks like this.
  12. aypi

    aypi Established commenter

    I would answer them if they have done some work and are stuck. At least they have made the effort to do something.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    It’s your own choice, I guess.

    Personally, I’m always happy to deal with student emails, especially from exam groups. It never takes very long and it’s one of the few things I can be sure will help them, so it’s worth it.
  14. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    If they contact me, I reply. But it is only Sixth Form who use my work email with the Ho6 copied in.
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    As long as you are firm with yourself about when you look at work emails, then there is no reason why student ones will be any more annoying or disruptive than staff ones.

    You chose to check accounts yesterday, so sent answers.
    If you don't check again until, say, Thursday, they can send as many questions as they wish. It won't disrupt your break.
  16. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    It is personal preference. I don't believe there should be any expectation of staff checking/sending emails in the holidays or out of reasonable working hours.

    Over Easter I will tend to check my emails a couple of times and have told my exam groups they can send me queries on the understanding that I'm on holiday and not on call. I've had 3 emails this holiday from students and replied to them all.
    On the other hand, I wouldn't be replying to a student emailing today about homework due in on Tuesday though and I won't be sending any emails to colleagues (because that's what the draft folder is for and I don't want to be part of promoting a culture of endless email).
    sparkleghirl likes this.
  17. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    This :)
    purplecarrot likes this.
  18. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I usually tell my exam classes that I will check emails at least every couple of days in the holidays if they need help. Very few take me up on it but I see no reason not to respond if I have time - though that should not of course be taken as a precedent for either me or other staff to be obliged to respond. (It never has been taken as such)
  19. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I really think this is an individual decision. For those not willing to look at their emails during the holiday, which is absolutely fine, and an out of office message seems appropriate. I preferred to check emails occasionally and deal with those I could, rather than having to do it all when I got back to school. I seem to recall that we had a facility for classes to ask questions on our VLE, and they often answered them for each other - that saved a bit of time.
  20. Over_the_hill

    Over_the_hill Star commenter

    I just asked my youngest (who is doing his GCSEs), he said some teachers said email them anything they are stuck on and they will reply (he has done) and some teachers said they were going away and so wouldn’t be contactable. It seems to be perfectly acceptable to the students either way.

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