E-mails over the weekend

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jac91, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. Jac91

    Jac91 Rookie

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    Feb 5, 2016

    I am a first year teacher and I'm struggling to think of boundaries with emails. I was wondering when do you not check your emails. I don't want to continue to have my nights (when school is well over) and weekends consumed with checking emails and responding to parent's complaints/concerns but I also don't want parents to feel like I am ignoring them. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    My personal choice is that if a parent is acting responsibily, not abusing my time with e-mails, I resond very very quickly to all e-mails, at all times.
     
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  4. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I would be very upfront with parents about the fact that you'll answer emails within 24 hours (on weekdays). Emails sent on weekends will be answered by Monday.

    You should not be spending your evenings checking emails and responding to parents' concerns/complaints (unless that's your personal choice). The more you make yourself available, the more they'll expect from you. You've gotta set boundaries.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I generally avoid even opening my school email on evenings and weekends because I don't want to have to tend to school issues while I'm at home. Furthermore, I don't always have access to student records and other data when I'm at home, so it's very likely that I may not be able to respond to a parent concern after hours even if I wanted to. For this reason I tell students and parents that the school's policy is that teachers will typically respond to emails by the end of the following school day whenever possible.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    My school email comes to my phone, so I always see it right away, but only respond occasionally in the evenings and on the weekend only if it's very important (cases in point--when a parent emailed to let me know about a change in custody because of abuse and another when I was informed about a suicide threat). My administrators make it a point not to email us on the weekends, so I know they would be in full support of us not replying to parents.
     
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  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    This.
     
  8. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Don't feel the need to, and if there's any flack for that, quote whatever your school or district has out there in terms of policies for timelines of responding to e-mails.

    Personally, I usually respond to them when I see them, but that's 100% purely a personal decision (based on what I know works best for me), and I still let parents know at the beginning of the year that it isn't a guarantee that I'll respond right away, so it doesn't set me up for increased expectations by parents.
     
  9. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    Feb 5, 2016

    I have emails sent to my phone. I like to have some time to think about my response. Sometimes I will type up a draft, but won't send it until the following morning/Monday morning. The only exception is emergencies (and parents will usually call for those).
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I'll echo what others have said, do what is comfortable. The day before a test I'll tell my students they can email with questions if they like, and I'll check more often that evening. Some parents do expect immediate replies and you have to train them to wait. I've had parents that will send four/five emails in one evening, getting increasingly agitated when I don't reply. Those parents usually get the 48 hour rule applied to them until they can start speaking nicely to me ;)
     
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  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I also get emails on my phone, so I just see everything all the time. However depending on the issue, I might wait to address it on Monday rather than immediately. If it is dire of course, I will address it immediately.
     
  12. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    My email alerts on my phone, so I'll dash off a reply if I feel like it, but I don't feel obligated to respond outside of school hours.
     
  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I turned off my school email and alerts on my phone for just this reason -- I was getting stressed out over school emails popping up on the weekend! Personally, I need the mental space of a clear home/work divide. I can check my school email on my phone if I absolutely need to, but I don't have it notifying me every five minutes.
     
  14. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I usually try to respond if it's a time sensitive question. I'll have students email me with questions about homework that they don't understand. I don't think I've ever had parents email me on the weekends actually... Or at least not in awhile. It's mostly students.
     
  15. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I check once in the evening and once on Saturday. If there is an urgent matter that can't wait until the next work day, I will respond. But usually things can wait. I did send out some e-mails this morning (Saturday) because I was away Wed-Thurs at a conference and then sick on Friday. So, to make up for this, I did work this morning. I also told my administrators I NEVER check on Sundays and they appreciated that I'd set that boundary.
     
  16. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I'm not great about not checking my email nights and weekends, but I'm getting better. Even if I see emails from parents, I do not respond until the next morning, or Monday morning if it's the weekend. However, I'll be honest - this sometimes varies depending on the parent (meaning I'll respond faster to parents who won't abuse the privilege). In general, though, I stick to that policy. My parents know that I'll respond within one business day.
     
  17. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I don't even check my email over the weekend. I do have remind so parents could contact me that way but I wouldn't respond until Monday unless it was a time sensitive issue or an emergency. I usually stay late on Friday to finish up grading anything we did that day and my lesson plans are done and I try not to do school work unless I want to.
     
  18. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    I purposely do not have work email sent to my phone. I only check it on my work computer M-F during school hours
     
  19. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    I respond to student emails during the evenings and on weekends, but wait to read/respond to parent emails until I'm at work.
     
  20. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Like some others said, I purposely don't have my work email set up to go to my phone. I don't feel the need to be connected to work 24/7. That said, I typically do check email on weeknights and Sunday nights because I like to know what's going on. I don't mind firing off a few emails while I'm watching tv or whatever. I would honestly be more stressed out about coming into work and seeing a bunch of unread emails first thing in the morning than just dealing with them at night. However, if I do happen to be too busy I don't stress about checking all of the time, and I don't stress about always responding right away either.
     
  21. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I would set up an auto response saying you will respond to emails when you return to school on Monday. I do read some emails from home but generally do not respond.
     
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  22. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Feb 8, 2016

    One idea if you want to send emails from home but don't want parents to know that you are (sounds silly maybe, but I don't want certain parents to think I'm always available!) is to use Boomerang, which is an add on in Gmail. You can set emails to send at a time/date in the future. I use that each week for my weekly update email. I write it on Sunday afternoon, but I don't want to get responses, so I Boomerang it to be sent Monday morning. It's limited - I think you get 10 emails per month.
     
  23. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Feb 8, 2016

    Some e-mail systems, such as the one we have (apparently...I don't know if I've ever successfully used it :p ) have that write-now-send-later feature built in, too. Ask your colleagues, perhaps?
     
  24. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    While you could wait and do all your e-mails during the week, the question becomes, "Do you really want to?" I know that on Monday I don't want to be swamped by e-mails. I don't make any promises to parents over the weekend, but if I have a bit of time over the weekend, why not? Parents are so appreciative of it all because I send a few 20 second e-mails on my phone while waiting in a bank or a grocery store line on a Saturday. Some weekends I am busy and out of town and I don't even look at work e-mails until Sunday night. It just depends on the weekend.
     
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  25. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I email back immediately, usually, unless it's something that requires a lengthy response, and then I wait until the week. If the parent abuses this, then I only answer between 8-4 on weekdays. One particular parent would email endlessly if I didn't put a limit on it.

    ETA: Reflecting on this, my immediate responses are usually things like "Thanks for letting me know" or "Yes, it's due Friday." If it's more than that or if it stresses me out, I flag it and wait until I'm at work to deal with it. That said, I think it's fine to only answer during work hours.
     
  26. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Feb 9, 2016

    The idea that $35K buys every waking moment of your life should come as a wake up call to every American—not just teachers.

    The notion that you are on call 24 hours a day, expected to answer the vast multitude of emails received while at home, over weekends, and vacations, is revolting. We are not doctors. We are being "reeducated" as to what constitutes an emergency and a loyal employee. When we were children, our own teachers did not answer emails all weekend long. Our teachers had a clear separation between work and private life. Today, young and naive teachers are agreeing to outrageous demands pulling the profession down into a spiral of wage slavery.

    If it's an actual emergency, someone will call me. Expecting me to answer an email about something that could wait for the next work day is asinine. Again, if I wanted to work every waking moment of my life, I would have pursued a career with adequate compensation.

    It's not that I won't work incredibly hard. I certainly have worked every waking moment in the past. But there was some measurable return I could expect.

    Working like a slave so that pay can continue to drop and working conditions continue to decline does not appeal to anyone with common sense.

    In short, I don't look at emails during my time off. If it's an actual emergency, someone can call me. That system somehow worked for decades, didn't it?
     
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  27. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Feb 9, 2016

    Unless the administration is telling the teacher they must answer in the evening or on the weekend, teachers who do check are doing of their own volition for their own benefit or because they can't help themselves. E-mail allows everyone to communicate when it is convenient for them so they don't have to remember to do it later. Some parents expect a response if the boundaries aren't set in the beginning. Sometimes the e-mails are more of a heads up because a child or an older student running into homework trouble now holds a higher negative impact than it did decades ago. This is not the case with all teachers, but once a family runs into one they are leery of all afterwards. Sometimes kids are genuinely stuck or putting way too much time in following the instructions of an assignment to find out that the assignment and that assignment didn't make sense. At least the teacher knows the student was trying.

    The system ran for decades. I do believe though a partially done homework assignment was met differently than it is today for many students. The frustration of teachers when a student or family doesn't comply or understand something is much higher. A lot of parents don't want to be seen as "problem parents" because the child wasn't able to comply to the expectations and end up being the "problem parent" because their anxiety drives them to continually contact the teacher about what is to many a small item, but if ignored would be met with the parent being seen as an uncaring parent whose child didn't do what was expected.
     
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  28. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I could quote the whole post - but really, I think that this whole thread comes down to two basic principles:
    -- Setting boundaries with parents/students (i.e. I will only reply on weekdays, or I will reply within 1 business day, but may respond on the weekend if I have time)
    -- Personal preference (you consider it as enslaving teachers, I consider it as just a 5 minute chunk of a Saturday afternoon when I have a down moment)

    While I respond in the evenings (even right before I go to sleep, sometimes, if I choose to check my e-mail at that time) and weekends sometimes, the parents all know that I may not respond then, and I've literally had zero complaints or negative thoughts about my not responding immediately (and this is in an area where there's a lot of parent/teacher communication).

    My checking my e-mail won't cause pay to drop, just like if my store manager wife works on writing a schedule for a bit outside of her "scheduled" times at work, it's not going to cause her pay to drop. Different preferences for different people. Yet another area where too many people swing too far to one side of the pendulum, when neither side of the pendulum is necessarily better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
  29. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Decide your boundaries and state them. My policy is a 24-hour response time, weekends the exception (and then, wait till Monday).

    Of course, I generally don't get a whole lot of parent e-mails compared to some of what I'm hearing here , so it's almost a non-issue.

    If you want your evenings and weekends to be yours only, great. If you feel comfortable being available to a lesser or greater extent more than that, great. Just let parents know your general electronic availability!
     
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  30. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Feb 9, 2016

    Does your email have an option for auto-reply?

    "Thank you for emailing. I will check my emails during the next school day's work hours and reply back to you as soon as possible. If this is an emergency, dial 9-1-1. (Kidding on the 9-1-1 part... lol) "
     
  31. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    If you feel it is helpful to your day to check the emails, then do so. One idea would be to keep your response in 'work in progress' instead of sending it after hours or on weekends. In this way, you can complete the task and yet send it later giving the parent an appropriate time you will respond.
     
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  32. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Feb 16, 2016

    I haven't been able to access my email at home because of how weird our system is. I decided not to try TOO hard to figure it out. My department head knows she can text me if there is an urgent conern. She has only done that once.
     
  33. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Check with your principal and co-teachers to see what the norm is for your school. My P says that if it is past 3:30 and not yet 8 am (my contract hours), I do not need to respond. The catch is that there is a 24 hour wait - I have to respond within 24 hours (minus weekends or holidays). She suggests that I do write up what I'm planning on saying to the parents in the evening if I have the time, but not send it until 8:00 am.

    Personally, I tell my students that if I can, I will respond to emails up until 7 pm if they have homework questions, etc.
     

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