Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Email and the angry student

Angry, frustrated, upset students. We have all had them both in the classroom and online. It is SO tempting for both parties to respond emotionally in this anonymous setting. Here are a few thoughts provided by Victoria S. Brown of Florida Atlantic University in the January 2011 edition of Online Classroom together with the collective personal experiences from our Butler Online staff.

  • Do not respond immediately. This is the online equivalent of taking a deep breath and thinking before you speak.
  • Wait at least an hour or two before crafting your response. But by all means, do respond. Write your email, and then pause and reread it carefully, maybe out loud, before sending.
  • Use a professional tone. While email seems impersonal, the person reading it will react very personally. Be careful that your language is neutral and free of sarcasm, condescension, and other unintentional but negative undertones. While students may get upset no matter what you say, it is better to err on the side of caution.
  • Address the student by name. Beyond the positive defusing power of using a person’s name, it will help to remind the student that this is not an anonymous situation, that a real person is listening and responding.
  • Limit your response to only the issues at hand. Be as brief as necessary.
  • Close “Respectfully, [your name]
  • Finally, make sure you keep a copy of the original message and your response(s)

Do you have any thoughts or additions? Let us know.

No comments: