Why Not Have Norms for Email, Too?

Pretty much every staff meeting, PLC meeting, and professional training in education starts by listing the norms by which participants should abide. The idea is keep the meeting focused and efficient. A typical list includes things like equity of voice, responsible use of technology, respect each other’s time, and be open to new ideas.

Oddly, though, I’ve only been involved in one network that had norms for email. The goal was efficiency and the norms we developed did an excellent job and streamlining our electronic workflow.

I don’t know of any faculties that have anything like that, but I’d encourage it. The short list below could work for almost any school or team within a school.

  1. Pack your subject with information. For example, “PBIS meeting Tuesday at 4:00 PM, Room 303,” instead of, “PBIS meeting this week.”
  2. If your subject is the entire message, add EOM for “End of Message.”
  3. Identify a targeted subgroup in the subject if you’re sending a message to the entire faculty. For example, “7th grade teachers only.”
  4. Be judicious about Replying to All instead of just replying to the original sender.
  5. If you Reply to All but are changing the subject, don’t forget to add the change in subject line.
  6. Add, “Thanks in advance, ” to any request in order to save the round of “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome.”

Clearly, most the items are common-sense. If followed faithfully, they save everybody time.

And who could object to that?


Sandy Merz

I grew up in Silver City, New Mexico and went the University of New Mexico, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. After working for the U.S. Geological Survey in remote regions of western New Mexico, I moved to Tucson to attend graduate school at the University of Arizona, earning a Master of Science degree in Hydrogeology. While working as an intern hydrologist for a local county agency, I started doing volunteer work that involved making presentations in schools. At that moment I knew teaching was the path to follow. It must have been a good decision because I’m still on the path after thirty-two years. My teaching certificates are in math and science and I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Career and Technical Education. After teaching engineering and math and elective classes at the same school in downtown Tucson my whole career, I’ve moved to a different middle school and district on the edge of town to teach math. In addition to full time teaching, I am actively involved in the teacher leadership movement by facilitating National Board candidates, blogging for Stories from School Arizona, and serving on the Arizona K12 Center’s TeacherSolutions team. In January 2017, Raytheon Missile System named me a Leader in Education and I’m a former Arizona Hope Street Fellow.

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