How to write an email to your teacher: Tips, rules and examples – SchoolHabits

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

In most situations that require you to communicate with your teacher, it is best to speak in person. I advise face-to-face meetings when possible because this reduces the chance of miscommunication. Meetings in person also give us the opportunity to communicate through body language, which is important if you have difficulties with verbal expression.

However, there are times when face-to-face meetings are not possible and you have to write an email instead. For these reasons, you need to know how to write an email to your teacher so that your message is clear and respectful, and also so that you get a response that addresses your concerns.

If your email isn’t clear and your questions are indirect, chances are you won’t get the clear, direct answers you’re looking for. makes sense, right?

Knowing how to email your teacher isn’t just a school skill; eventually, you’ll be writing emails to your boss, co-workers, and other high rollers. And since you can’t hit “cancel sending,” you better get it right the first time. If you’re out of school and working, these tips, rules, and email examples apply to you, too.

okay, about the rules, do’s and don’ts.

how to write an email to your teacher (or your boss, colleague, director, etc.)

1. repeat after me: an email is not a text message!

2. repeat after me: an email is not a novel or an epic poem.

3. always enter in a subject line. never leave this field blank. keep it short and to the point, basically like giving your email a “headline.” don’t be creative, don’t use capital letters (no need to yell), and avoid exclamation points unless it’s a real emergency…in which case…call 911?

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examples of good subject lines:

  • take Monday’s test again
  • stay after school this week
  • question about tonight’s homework
  • schedule a quote

examples of terrible subject lines:

  • [no subject]
  • what did I miss???
  • help!!!!
  • I lost my homework and I can’t I have it I know where to get another copy, can you send me another one?

4. use a proper salutation. In fancy language, this is called a salutation. i’m not graceful in most scenarios, when writing an email to your teacher, you’ll use “dear mrs. smith” – or whatever your teacher’s name is. if you’ve had your teacher for more than a few weeks, it’s fine to use “Hello, Mrs. Blacksmith.” in any case, always close your salutation with a comma.

examples of good email greetings:

  • dear mr. smith,
  • hello mrs. jones,

examples of bad email greetings:

  • [blank]
  • hey!
  • what’s up.

5. introduce yourself. Unless you’re in elementary school and have only one teacher, the first sentence of your email should clearly and directly state who you are. do not skip this step even if your email address contains your name. keep this information basic and relevant (your teacher/boss does not need to know your shoe size). do not write more than one sentence.

examples of good introductory sentences:

  • this is maria ricci – i’m in your a period chemistry class.
  • this is chrissy holmes, and i’m in your tuesday night economics 101 class.

6. Write a short general sentence. This is an important, simple, single sentence that clearly states why you are writing the email. It should be similar to your subject line. If this sentence doesn’t match your subject line, go back and edit your subject line.

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examples of good general sentences:

  • I am writing to you because I was absent on Tuesday and I have some questions about what I missed.
  • I am sending you an email to follow up on our conversation after class. yesterday.
  • I am writing because I am looking for additional help with the material we covered this week.

7. write the body of the email. This is where you write your message and/or ask your questions, and it’s the only reason you write. be direct, be clear, and be brief. Ideally, this section should be five sentences or less. if you have multiple questions, use bullet points. If your sentences are long, use extra line breaks (paragraphs) to separate the text into smaller parts. (See additional tips below for more information on paragraph size and readability.)

8. thank your teacher/boss and close the email. Again, keep this part of your email short.

examples of good email closings:

thank you! yours truly, meggan meggles

I appreciate your help. billy-bob

9. test before shipping. don’t skip this step! read the email out loud to yourself to catch any weird parts, and check the email for any misspellings or word choice errors. for the love of all things holy, capitalize your i’s.

Now that you know how to write an email to your teacher (or boss), consider the following tips as well.

1. keep paragraphs to no more than four sentences each.

2. Limit exclamation marks. if you simply must use one, stick to an exclamation mark per email.

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3. avoid blame and take responsibility. If you email your teacher about a problem you’re having with your grade or a problem you’re having, be careful with your wording. instead of “I don’t understand why you gave me an f!” You could write “I got an F on the assignment and I hope you can help me understand what I did wrong.” taking charge is a much better approach and will increase the chances that your teacher will help you.

4. For high-risk emails, such as if you’re emailing your manager or boss, email yourself first. doing so gives you one last chance to correct silly mistakes and/or pitch errors.

5. keep it short any email longer than 10-12 sentences is better as a phone call or meeting in person

6. do not overdo the formatting. Avoid colors, weird fonts, capital letters, and excessive bold and italics. an appropriate place to use bold might be to highlight dates and times, as in the following example:

Could you meet me Tuesday November 20 at 2:00?

7. avoid jokes and sarcasm. Save the humor and sarcasm for in-person conversations, as it’s easy for the recipient to misread his tone without hearing his voice or seeing his body language or facial expressions.

Emailing is an effective and efficient form of communication when done correctly. so keep it simple, respectful and correct.

These are the 4 pillars of email management for students. If you’re overwhelmed with your inbox, follow these 4 steps.

If you’re having a hard time asking for help, here are some key tips for you.

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