03 October 2008

Replying to students' Emails


I get a lot of Emails from my students. As I mentioned before, I am seriously spamming my hundreds of students with thousands of messages. So I get quite a few Emails back from them, usually telling me what they are doing to improve their English in response to my tips and encouragement. I also get a lot of Emails of holiday greetings from them during the holiday season. Often they ask me what I'm going to do for the holiday. Sometimes I see my students making common errors in their messages and I would like to send them a little guidance about this problem.

Normally, I could not keep up with such a large amount of incoming messages. I can read them but to try to reply to them all can be a huge effort and I may be only able to manage the briefest of replies. It may seem a little disappointing to the students to not get an answer to their Email but what can one person do? They understand and don't expect much.

But I want to do more.

I use Microsoft Outlook to manage my Email. It downloads all my incoming messages from my GMAIL.COM account and uploads and sends my outgoing messages.


I use an Outlook function as a simple way to insert stock replies to my students messages. When my students tell me that they are reading a newspaper article everyday or are listening to podcasts from www.eslpod.com to improve their English, I have 10 different encouraging stock answers that I can choose from to reply to them. One of them is:


If I want to point out a common grammar error I have a rather longer stock reply that explains the problem, the solution and several examples.

I can give really helpful and encouraging replies to students and it only takes me about 10 seconds. If you are a busy teacher and want to give more detailed replies to your students' messages, here is how you can do it, too.


In Outlook go to TOOLS -> OPTIONS... -> MAIL FORMAT -> SIGNATURES...

There you will find a function for creating your signature in your Emails. But the great thing is that you can put any text in there that you want to be able to select and insert into your Emails. When you want to use it in an Email, first you "Reply" to the Email, choose INSERT -> SIGNATURE and then you will be presented with a drop-down menu of all your stock replies and answers that you can select from.

You may want to develop several versions of one reply so that not all students are getting exactly the same thing and you may want to update them from time to time. Of course, this is not a way to deal with all messages but I find it useful to deal with almost all of them.

It really does a lot to help the students feel closer to their teacher. It really helps the teacher to not let the messages go unanswered and to send out some encouragement and guidance.

1 comment:

  1. People using Gmail onsite (not sure if that's the word, sorry!) can do the same by saving "Canned responses". I love that!