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Classroom Management: The Importance of an Email Signature

Jordan Catapano

I recently discovered automatic email signatures. While at first I thought they were useless and redundant, I’ve come to realize that an email signature is a simple classroom management tool that can communicate more than I originally recognized. Teachers who don’t use automatic email signatures should reconsider, as they offer a professional way of representing ourselves to everyone we communicate with through the classroom management tool of email.

Classroom Management: The Ingredients of a Signature

I used to just put my first name with a dash in front of it as my signature to an email:

-Jordan

But sometimes I’d forget to do this. Other times I would modify it so that I could appear more professional to certain recipients. I ultimately found myself thinking through what my signature needed to be for each and every correspondence. What a waste of time!

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Here are some basics that could go into any teacher’s email signature that help to identify who you are, share relevant information, and do it automatically for every email you send.

  • Name – Your professional name, as you like to be called.
  • Qualifications – Any titles or letters before or after your name. I’m a National Board Certified Teacher, so I put “NBCT” after my name. Impressive, right?
  • Contact Information – Usually a phone number you could be reached at.
  • Institution – It might be obvious, but I like to list the school I work at.
  • Department/Position – If you teach a certain grade or work in a particular position, this could also be listed.
  • Social Media – The username you could be found at for any professional social media accounts.
  • Anything Else Fun – Consider what else you want to represent you. I’ve known many individuals to post a “Here’s what I’m currently reading” update to promote literacy, or an inspirational quote that relates to their philosophy of life. Others like to include their picture, a logo, or a link to school website or professional blog.

The reason why I do this is simple: It communicates my essential professional information with every email correspondence. I don’t have to think about it; I don’t have to sign different ways for different people. It’s professional, it’s clean, it’s consistent. There’s something about this ending to your emails that assures recipients, “I’m a professional, and you can trust me.”

How to Set This Up

Setting up a personal email signature is not difficult. For most email applications, all you need to do is find the “Preferences” tab and select “Signatures.” If you’re using Outlook mail, for example, then press the “Outlook” tab in the upper left of your screen, and you’ll find “Preferences” there. The same is true for Apple’s email exchange. On Google’s gmail, you’ll see this in the upper right – click on the settings gear, select “Settings,” and scroll down.

Once you find the signature option, you’ll notice a small input field where you can design your signature. Whatever you type in the field will be saved and automatically displayed at the bottom of each email you create. You may want to examine the signature settings so that your signature will appear at the bottom of both new emails and replies.

Once you double-check what you have for your signature, test that it works by sending yourself an email!

Adding an email signature is a simple way teachers can share with colleagues, parents, students, and the community their basic professional information. Think of it as a business card attached to the bottom of every email! While this won’t radically change your teaching, it is one of many small things teachers can do to present a more professional image and communicate clearly with others.

What classroom management elements do you include in your email signature? Tell us how you use your email signature to communicate and contribute to your professional image in a comment below!

Jordan Catapano taught high school English for twelve years in a Chicago suburb, where he is now an Assistant Principal. In addition to being National Board Certificated and head of his school’s Instructional Development Committee, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and has experience as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website www.jordancatapano.us.