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Communication Troubles? Fear No More.

How to Appropriately and Effectively Contact Teachers

Overthinking how to tell your teacher you’ll be out of class next week? Don’t know how to express that you have no clue what you’re learning? Want to feel more confident about corresponding with teachers? Look no further. This recurring advice column seeks to help students tackle problems they deal with regarding school. 

For many, emailing a teacher can be a stressful process; you might reread the email twenty times to make sure you wrote everything right, or you might hurriedly type it out and click send without a second thought. But, believe it or not, there is a middle ground. And in this middle ground lies more effective communication.

First, when sending an email, make sure you know the focus. Then, use the focus as your subject line. You need to include a subject line because when you leave it blank, teachers do not know the topic of your email and might not open it when they first see it. A good subject line lets the teacher immediately identify what you’re saying and helps you stay organized. For example, if you’ll miss Chumash class because of a doctor’s appointment, you could make the subject line “Class on (date)” or “Missing Class on (date).” 

Next, when writing the email, always greet the teacher. You can do this very easily by just starting the email with “Hi (Teacher’s Name),” or something similar. Go to the next line, and elaborate on the focus of your email. Using the situation above, you could say something along the lines of “I won’t be in class on (date).” It is up to you if you want to include the reason you won’t be in class. Do not feel obligated to share, especially if the reason is personal. 

Try your best not to overanalyze your email; it’s not an essay.

Additionally, it is always great to explain how you will catch up on any missing work. A useful tip is to describe what you will do from your side as well as ask the teacher for additional information if necessary. For example, you could say: “I’ll ask a peer to explain the classwork I missed so I’ll be caught up by our next class,” which shows a proactive approach to make up for lost work. Then, say, “Would you be able to post any worksheets on Classroom or let me know if I should pick up any worksheets?” This might not always be applicable, but it never hurts to ask. 

Finally, end the email with your signature. If you like, you can reread the email to check for any spelling or punctuation errors. Try your best not to overanalyze your email, though; it’s not an essay. If you feel the need to peer-review your emails, stop. You should rarely need to do this. Click send, and wait patiently for a response. If the email is time-pertinent, send it at least a few school days (as in not weekends) before you need a response. 

If the teacher doesn’t respond within around two days, you have a few options for your subsequent course of action. You can reply to the original email and gently remind them about what you originally sent, saying something like, “Hey! Just wanted to check in and make sure you’re aware I won’t be in class on (date).” You can also go up to the teacher in person and explain what you wrote in the email. If you do this, don’t forget to let them know that you also emailed them this information. 

Finally, here are a few general tips for writing emails: If you’re having trouble wording an email, try saying what you want to write out loud, writing it all down, and then making your language more concise. Make sure you spell and punctuate everything correctly. Do not worry if an email is not absolutely perfect — as long as it clearly conveys your message, it is fine. And most importantly, don’t forget to hit send.

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