Handling Email (Part III)

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

(This is the third in a series if you haven’t already you might want to start by reading Part I and Part II.)

Before we go any further I thought I would go over the “rules” I give students for emailing. These are what I tell students with regards to email-usually on the first day, and sometimes I will repeat on the third day (just for those few that added the class late). Lately I have been thinking I am going to move towards including these on the syllabus.

  • Please send me email, I prefer it to voicemail and it is a far more effective way to reach me. (In fact I tell students I never check voicemail-this is mainly because Albany has a bad system but . . .)
  • While I often will respond quickly, please allow me 48 hours to respond. This lets students know that I am not available 24/7 and that they should not email me “last minute.”
  • If I have not responded in 48 hours please email me again, I won’t take this as harrasment. Let me know that this is your second email. (This prevents the I sent you an email, but you didn’t respond problem.)
  • You can send me written work as an attachment (depending on the work, and the class I require final drafts to be printed and handed in) but only if it is as a .rtf or .pdf. I usually cover this later as well, about the time that students want to email me drafts of papers for comments. (For why this is important see a previous post.)

On the first day of class I want to collect students emails, and create the ability to generate email lists of all the students in my class. So this is how I do it:

I give them their first assignment:

Send me an email with the following information by the next class peroid:

  • You should send this email from the account you regularly use. (Many students have multiple accounts.)
  • The subject should be the name of the class.(This insures that I can sort them easily and prevents me from accidently deleting one thinking it is junk.)
  • Your full name in the body of the email (why this is important will become apparent later).
  • The call number of the class you are taking in the body of the email.
  • Then I usually throw in something related to the class, for example if it is a cultural studies class I might ask them to list three movies that they have seen recently. Or, perhaps what made them sign up for my course.

The important parts are the first four, because this allows you to search your emails for a particular student, and group them by class. This makes it easy to set up mailing lists if you want, or if you want to email a student but don’t know their address, you can just search all your old emails (assuming you are using a mail program or gmail) for the name of the student you want to email. All of this prevents me from having to transcribe email addresses from a piece of paper to my computer, which would invariably lead to mistakes.