My pledge to myself: no internal email

At our first full faculty meeting of the calendar year I invited everyone to pledge to do try something new in educational technology.

Here’s mine. I showed it to everyone at our meeting:

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Email is a nightmare here so taking a cue from Altos CEO, Thierry Breton, I’m going to try to cut my internal email completely. I’m going to make every possible effort to find some other way of answering other than hitting “Reply.” I don’t think it will work in the long run without building an laternative communication too, like Altos did. But this is the start and from here I’ll find out what our real communciation needs are (Altos’ research showed only 10% of internal email was useful or actionable.) I’d love to see something like my fantasy communucations app.

Now, after I read through my inbox I draw up a list of people I need to repsond to then get out of my chair and walk around the school to meet face to face. Sometimes I phone, but as most of those I talk to in my day are teachers, they’re not usually at their desks.

To be sure, I’m not asking anyone to stop emailing me–that’s just not fair as we don’t have any alternative set up yet. But an interesting thing has started to happen. A few staff have also decided to walk to my office and chat with me, instead of sending me an email.

And if feels good to talk!

5 Comments

  1. Reply
    Melanie Cannon January 6, 2012

    Right now my school email account has 7267 emails in it. Looking forward to seeing how this goes for you! Still thinking of mine…

  2. Reply
    Joe Campbell January 7, 2012
  3. Reply
    Grade1 January 7, 2012

    I love the sound of what you’re suggesting here, but I don’t know if it’s a realistic goal (especially for me). I work at a school with 750 students and almost 50 staff members. I love going into talk to my principal and vice principal, and try to do so often, but sometimes they’re in meetings, and sometimes they’re in other classrooms around the school, and sometimes they’re not even in the school. This isn’t their fault. They’re pulled in lots of directions too, and I need to respect that. Emails work. All of the principals and vice principals have iPhones, and often I have answers to my questions before the end of the day. Now, that being said, these answers sometimes come in the form of other emails and sometimes come through face-to-face conversations. I just like the fact that these emails tend to open up communication between myself and the administrators, and I think that’s a good thing.Thanks for giving me a lot to think about!Aviva

  4. Reply
    Brad Ovenell-Carter January 7, 2012

    We have 750 student and over a hundred faculty and staff and I think this is quite doable. Actually, I’m being a bit cheeky and I need to qualify my claim. There are a couple points to the exercise. One is to get me out of my chair and to encourage others to go face-to-face when they can. It makes for a much moreconvivial workplace. Now that I think on it, doesn’t it seem rude to fire off emotional cold emails to our colleagues, as though they were strangers? Secondly, I want to see what tools or structures we need to put in place in order to eliminate email. You’re quite right, not all communication is best done handled face-to-face. But very little if any of it has to go through email. Meetings ought to be arranged through calendars, documents ought to be shared through something like Dropbox, conversations ought to be held in a wiki or discussing group, quick notes could be sent as SMS and so on.

  5. Reply
    Grade1 January 7, 2012

    I really like the ideas that you shared here! Please don’t get me wrong, as we do use calendars and documents, etc., but we also have an email system in place for our parents. The emails all go to me (I usually get about 13,000 a year), and I often need to share them with other teachers and administrators in order to get answers, Having the option to forward emails along and get quick answers for parents really helps. Emails aren’t for everything though, and I appreciate the other ideas that you shared. Thanks for really getting me thinking!Aviva

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