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.