Teaching Email Etiquette in the English Classroom

Teaching Email Etiquette in the English Classroom

As a high school English teacher, there are so many different skills and concepts I want to teach my students. Not only do I want them to be well-versed in literature so they can pick up on allusions in pop culture, but I also want them to be able to write across a variety of mediums proficiently.I want them to improve their vocabulary and have a commanding understanding of how language works so that they can effectively communicate in the world.

And while I want them to be able to do all of this, I also understand that the vast majority of my students are not going to be literature or English majors in college. And with that said, when my students leave my classroom, I want to be able to provide them with enough guidance and instruction so that they will succeed in the world after they leave high school.

As a high school English teacher, I have the opportunity to provide my students with real-world writing instruction. In my classroom, that comes in the form of teaching email etiquette at the very beginning of the school year.
Teaching Email Etiquette in the English Classroom

By teaching email etiquette to my high school English students at the beginning of the school year, I help my students be successful all year round.

Direct Instruction

First, I use direct instruction strategies to teach about etiquette and email etiquette. I explain to my students what etiquette is, why it is essential to follow etiquette, and I also explain how in many cases an email might be the first impression.

Bad Examples

After a quick mini-lesson on email etiquette. I like to project some bad email examples on the board. I have my students read the emails and then volunteer to correct just one change about the email. Usually, each email has several. From no subject line to no greeting to improper grammar to being downright rude to a teacher, this is one of my favorite parts of the lesson. My students typically have a fun time with this part of the lesson as well.

Craft a Terrible Email

All too often, teachers tell students what not to do. Why not let them show us what not to do? Once students have seen some poor email example, I like to challenge them to work in small groups to write the worst email ever. I want them breaking all of the email etiquette rules (while still maintaining school-appropriate content). I usually have my student groups share their emails and explain why they are so terrible. It is also fun to have students vote on the winner of the worst email contest. To help students with this activity, it might be helpful to give them some sample topics to write about. Perhaps they can write asking for a letter of recommendation, or they could ask about an extension on their essay.
Teaching Email Etiquette in the English Classroom

Make Email Corrections

Now that your students have a solid foundation about proper email etiquette, it is time for them to make some revisions to emails that do not follow standard etiquette rules. In my Email Etiquette mini-unit, there are several different sample emails students can revise and correct to demonstrate their understanding of the concept.

Write an Email

Once students finish the small group and individual activities, it is time for students to write their emails. A great way to wrap up this mini-unit, especially if you teach it at the beginning of the school year, is to have students write you an email. You can ask them to share something about themselves or to share their goals for the school year, or something along those lines.

Once I started teaching email etiquette to my students at the beginning of the school year, my email inbox is much more pleasant. You will appreciate your students’ new skill and other teachers will, too!
Teaching Email Etiquette in the English Classroom