How to ... cope with email

15th June 2007 at 01:00
Publicising staff email addresses is causing problems. Any advice?

Cautious schools direct everyone to the school office address. Follow your internet safety policy, include advice on content and format, when to use school and when personal mail. Pupils' email must be filtered and absolutely safe. You deserve that too. Never send messages in the heat of the moment.

So no Hotmail accounts?

Avoid school mail accounts for personal messages but use web mail accounts for personal mail.

Include your name and school details as a signature for school emails but don't give your home address or phone number. You represent the school and its reputation, but you also have a right to privacy.

No witty round robins, then.

"Jokes" may be misinterpreted; criticism can become public very quickly.

Ask yourself: Why am I writing this? What result do I want from this message?

Make your subject line descriptive, yet short - you might even compress your message entirely into the subject. Don't write in capital letters (looks like shouting), and be careful who you copy mail to.

Create mail contact groups to send a single mail to a team of people.

Create folders to organise mail, and consider "rules" to automatically arrange them (in Outlook see Tools then Rules Wizard).

Make sure the reply and forwarding sign shows the message you're replying to, and be prepared to selectively edit the original message. Prefer plain text to html as it takes up less bandwidth and is more compatible for a wide range of users.

Include hypertext links on a separate line so they don't break. Avoid big attachments where possible as these slow downloads and take up storage space. Consider the environment - don't print.

Forward very selectively. If it says "send this to everyone you know", bin it. It's almost certainly spam or a scam.

And receiving inappropriate emails?

Anything inappropriate - medical enhancements or get rich quick schemes - refer to your technician and your email provider with examples to improve their filtering.

Local troublemakers, refer to your head. Unless it is the head, in which case tread carefully

Duncan Grey is author of The First Aid Kit for Teachers, 100+ Essential Lists for Teachers and Getting the Buggers to Learn (Continuum)

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