Sent Mail

I hate email.

I wonder if teachers despised telephones when they first became ubiquitous. I once sent email sporadically to save paper for inter-office memoranda. Though the expression “Didn’t you get the memo?” is alive and well, the memo itself is dead and buried. Email wasn’t even a verb back then.

I admit, there were a few times in college (mostly grad school) where I sent a cleverly worded email instead of an assignment. Ten years later, what I know for sure is that I never fooled anyone.

Teachers know we’re lying. And I say “we” because I’m guilty. Email is second only to the text message for the nonconfrontational procrastinator’s exit strategy. I don’t even check my email the night before a major assignment is due. You would be stunned how many people’s grandmas pass away. If you’re a grandma, you might want to acquire a copy of your teenage grandchildren’s school syllabi and find out when the midterm is.

Because, lady, your days are numbered.

I wish I could avoid my email after progress reports go out. I will have at least 15-20 emails from parents who want meetings with me about why their children are in danger of failing. It used to be that I regularly communicated with the parents of my students. It was called a progress report. Today, the progress report is the prelude to the email. The same way that the “due date” for an assignment has become the day when students check in to see when the real due date is.

Because surely, when I wrote “due date,” what I meant was “turn it in whenever you feel like it.”

Communication is so easy these days; it takes a minute or two to fire off an email to your child’s teacher. What doesn’t register for parents is how many other parents are doing the same thing. I have nearly 200 students. Luckily, most of them are passing, or I would never be able to leave my desk.

I refuse to check email from home. There will probably come a time when I won’t be able to get away with that, but I already use my family time to grade papers and plan lessons. How much are we supposed to allow our work lives to encroach on our home lives?

“Mommy, can you play with me or are you working?” my oldest asked me last night. All I ever hear from mothers of older children is “Treasure this time! It goes by so fast!” I know. When I blinked, my spring break was over and my in-box was full.

Oprah once said that teachers should be available via cell phone until late in the evening to help students. Rhetorically, it’s a great strategy. If I say, “But I don’t want to be available to my students during my family time,” then I sound like I don’t care about my students. While she and the other millionaires are fixing education though, I wish they’d consider teachers people. Or replace us with robots and get it over with.

We see ourselves as the most successful students, and therefore experts at what students should do. After all, the student became the master! Others see us as failures. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

Those who can’t teach, blog.



About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
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20 Responses to Sent Mail

  1. Rosemary S. says:

    “Because, lady, your days are numbered.”

    This line made this Grandma laugh out.loud! Perhaps I won’t find it so amusing when my only grandchild – who celebrated his first birthday last week – is celebrating his 15th, or 16th – but, today it was hilarious!

    As always, I enjoy the thoughts you share with us – and hope that someday my grandson does have a teacher with your sense of humour, and willingness to persevere, despite what must seem like pretty insurmountable odds, at times! He might actually learn something, if he does!

  2. Betsey says:

    I am a teacher too and I remember when Oprah said that. It was so easy for her to say that without realizing that we, too, have children and family that need us.

  3. nervrom says:

    Man, I recently checked all my old sent messages from when I was in college and found at least two dozen that I sent to my favourite teacher. One of them was included in a long line of threads from the other 12 times I had sent an email that I was missing his class, and I CRINGED. I literally said, “there’s been an accident in the main intersection near my house, and I can’t get to school!” It didn’t even dawn on me that I live in a major city and could have walked half a block north, south or west to find a working bus to take me in that general direction.

    He never seemed to hold that against me, and I am forever grateful.

  4. Surely someone has noticed that the increased expectations of time (paid and otherwise) and attention expected on behalf of teachers has risen in direct proportion to the decrease of expectation on the part of those who brought these little dumplings to the planet in the first place. In short, public school teachers are expected to breach the gap created by mothers and fathers who either can’t or won’t maintain the parental responsibilities outlined for those who have been procreating since the dawn of recorded history. The reasons why Oprah thinks that teachers should shove the needs of their own progeny aside each evening in order to maintain a constant Code Red “on call’ status for students and their families are:
    1) Many parents no longer believe that they are in any way responsible for their child’s education.
    2) Because of Reason1, school districts have found it easier to pass those responsibilities to teachers because:
    A- Parents whine a lot and then sue the district.
    B- They (both the district and the parents who claim to “pay our salary with their taxes” think they own us.
    3) Oprah is not and never will be an educator. Her life has not prepared her to hear the word “no”.
    4) Oprah has no children. She makes me tired.

    I don’t answer my email from home either and none of my students (or their parents) have access to my home or cell number. And? The day I received a memo suggesting that grading in a red pen gave mistakes a negative connotation was the day my soul died just a little. Right after I saw my first pay stub. That’s unrelated to the above topic, but still…

    • Mrs Odie says:

      Negative connotation?! Oh for the love of Mike.I am weary of being told all the ways the inconsequential things matter. My correction pens are red. My manner is stern. My policies are non-negotiable. My deadlines are final.

  5. I see errors in that last comment, but I was writing quickly since I was on my 30 minute lunch. Please forgive.

  6. During my lunch break I sent a longer comment which seems to have been lost, but it basically said that Oprah doesn’t know crap and neither do the people who pay or nor the parents of the children we teach. That is all.

    • Mrs Odie says:

      I don’t get to comments until the end of the day sometimes. Thanks for weighing in! Even though it bums me out, it’s nice to see that I’m not having a unique experience.

  7. Mrs. Sjogey says:

    Have you ever considered teaching in an independent school? I was a public school kid and I live in an area of the country with an outstanding public school system. But after 20 years of working in private schools I can tell you that the environment is just so much more humane for teachers. You would be quite a hiring catch!

  8. Colette says:

    I did laugh out load at the “Because, lady, your days are numbered.” comment, i think the excuse of my gran being ill or had died, was an excuse I used alot when I was at grammar school (I’m not proud believe me!) that the last time I was able to ever use it again was when my form teacher wanted to write home to ask my folks how many grandmothers I actually had!! Oh i cringe now thinking back … :-/ I hate email too, last time I checked I had 1712 unopened mail, I tend to open and deal with those i have to and the ignore rest, I have gotten into such a bad habit that I really just need to do a massive cull and delete the junk!!

    • Colette says:

      Apologies on the typing errors … another bad habit, I hit the submit button without checking first.

  9. Summer says:

    I once had a student that after a month of Grandma dying, she had still not completed her long term reading assignments from week to week when her group met. She had been out a week, the next week I cut some slack, the third week I wondered why not, and by the month’s end I was in full wtf. When I noted her lack of assignments on her homework log Mom called me and asked, “Didn’t you get my note that his grandmother DIED?” She was a bit exasperated. I was truly shocked. Was I being insensitive? How much time does one need when there is a death in the family?

    With that said, I don’t mind giving parents my phone number. I have rarely had anyone abuse it. And there are no guarantees I am available still although I try to be. I don’t blame any teacher that wouldn’t and Oprah is such a tool.

    I am often inspired by other professionals that go above and beyond with families of their own. I do my best.

    • Summer says:

      “Didn’t you get my note that HER grandmother died”

    • Mrs Odie says:

      I have thought about giving out my phone number. I fear I would lay it on too thick. “Here is my personal phone number. When you call, please ignore the sounds of me cooking dinner, washing dishes, bathing my children, talking to neighbors while I walk the dog, vacuuming, or otherwise living my private life on my evening off. I’m sure that whatever excuse you have for not being able to turn in your work on time is far period more period important period.”

  10. mree says:

    Why don’t your posts have a “like” button… Like you, I never have enough time. Ever. Which is why I am attempting to read a few of your posts at one sitting because I don’t have time (like some bloggers) to spend the mornig sifting through emails with my cup of coffee that has pretty designs on top.

    I just wanted to say, you are not alone. My daughter many times has asked if I can do something and I feel like the worst mom when I can’t or I say “in a minute” and the next thing I know, she is asleep . . . so many minutes went by.

    I work a part time job away from home and a part time job from home. I am ALWAYS working. I feel like I do so much, yet accomplish so little. I try to be “oh so many things.” but am great at none of them. I sighed the other night and asked my teenage son if he ever feels like he has so much to do and no matter how hard he works all day, he feels like he got nothing done – – – he looked at me with a confusing look (a look I am sure you see mon-fri). That’s what I thought. Treasure this time my son, it goes by so fast.

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