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Appropriate Email Etiquette

  1. Sep 7, 2009 #1
    I've been wondering this for a while.

    One of my teachers is particularly nasty in her emails to me. She has no problem critiquing me to the point of attempted embarrassment (getting other student's inputs about me to base her critique). She also has no problem yelling at me if I accidentally walk into her office hours while she's talking to a student.

    Is this something I should be concerned about? I used to just brush it off, but it has gotten to the point where I have spammed her email address.

    In my opinion, it is not appropriate to talk about sensitive subject matters over email, but rather in person when full communication is apparent (body language, tone of voice, etc).

    I don't really understand - I mean, I know math teachers are supposed to be anti-social (or are they?), but this is a little too much for me. I don't like thinking about how much I hate my teachers on my day off.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2009 #2


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    Abusive or nasty emails are unprofessional. Report her and forward copies of the emails to the appropriate administrators.
  4. Sep 7, 2009 #3
    You didn't mention her behavior in class. Does she single you out for critiquing in class?
  5. Sep 7, 2009 #4


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    Without seeing the emails, or at least excerpts from them, no one on this forum can comment on whether the emails are nasty or the critique is indeed over the top. However, have you tried discussing this issue with your teacher, or another member of staff?
    Have you tried knocking and waiting for a response before entering her office?
    You have spammed your teacher's inbox? You do realise that this probably violates your schools acceptable use policy, leaving you liable to disciplinary action? I say again, have you tried talking to your teacher or another member of staff?.
    Well you really know how to make friends, don't you? Let's go to a site with a high proportion of professional scientists and mathematicians and call math teachers anti-social. I can possibly think of any reason why anyone might to a dislike to you ...
  6. Sep 7, 2009 #5


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    It is customary to knock before entering someone's office or workplace. It is also customary (and curteous) to make an appointment. Office hours are the periods when students can visit, and so it is possible that the professor is already seeing another student.

    One does not simply walk into the office of a professor - accidentally. Thoughtlessly perhaps, but not accidentally.
  7. Sep 7, 2009 #6


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    What planet are you from? Math teachers are hot!

    I think there's a high probability of at least one of Hootenany's points being very relevant.
  8. Sep 7, 2009 #7
    Yeah, she is very unprofessional on many levels. I think she takes advantage of people not reporting her because they'll be afraid they look stupid. She plays a weird popularity card a lot of the time.
  9. Sep 7, 2009 #8
    I run the Math Club at school (founded it, preside over it). She's the faculty adviser that was assigned to me. She has meetings without me with students, to critique me, and then she has more meetings, with me, to get a collective group of people against me.

    She does have a bad reputation on ratemyprofessors.com, as well as with the student body (I haven't met one student that says she was an effective teacher - most are left confused and are too scared to vent about her).
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  10. Sep 7, 2009 #9
    Sounds like you're in high school?
  11. Sep 7, 2009 #10
    I have spammed her email, which means all her emails directly go to spam. I'm not going to mass mail her mailbox, which is what you're thinking.

    There are social math teachers at my junior college, and there are weirder ones. The weird ones yell at classrooms full of seven people, and play games, while the normal ones don't have classrooms where you're walking on eggshells.

    When I walk into her office hours, when there is no one else in the building, and she is there with another student, she gets very hostile. It was "thoughtless" in the way that I didn't expect her to "bite," (she's normally very comfortable with me) but really, can't someone just communicate "Hey, I'm with here with another student, can you wait outside?" Rather than "WAIT OUTSIDE!" I'm not a loud person, but she gets very odd sometimes.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  12. Sep 7, 2009 #11


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    If a teacher/professor is being inappropriate, one should go to the principal/department head and let the faculty/administration deal with it.

    As Hootenanny mentioned, none of us here can verify one's account of the situation, nor are we in a position to deal with it.
  13. Sep 7, 2009 #12


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    It's really impossible to know if she is acting this way because of something you have done that is disrespectful and she is correcting your rudeness (for example, it sounds like you're just barging into her office without knocking...even during office hours, you should knock before entering, that's just the respectful thing to do) or if there really is a problem.

    As Astronuc suggested, the best approach if you cannot talk to her directly about the issue is to arrange a meeting with the department head if you really are sure the behavior is not appropriate and you have given her all due respect to earn respectful behavior back (expect that she may be asked to attend this meeting too...the department head will want to hear both sides of the story too).
  14. Sep 7, 2009 #13
    Yeah, it's probably that. I don't really know her at all, so she probably just got mad that I didn't knock.

    Since that worked so well (I have a hard time figuring out teachers and I think you guys nailed it), I'm having a difficult time understanding this other teacher that's supposed to be writing me a letter of recommendation. He's stopped responding to my emails (I don't really send them that often, but for the last ten emails I've sent over the past five months, he's only responded to one). It's weird because at the beginning of the Spring '09 quarter he was fairly proficient in responding to messages I sent.

    I've been thinking all these things like he doesn't think I deserve one, or he doesn't like me, or I've been bothering him too much, or that I stopped going to his office hours when I didn't need his help anymore (and for some reason that bothered him).

    Is there a reason a teacher would stop responding to a student's emails for a reason other than a heavy workload?
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
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