February 10th, 2012

How to Respond to an Angry Student via Email


If a student sends you an angry email, keep your cool and consider the following guidelines by Victoria S. Brown, assistant professor of educational technology at Florida Atlantic University, in handling the situation:

  • Do not respond immediately. Wait two or three days and carefully consider your response.
  • Use a professional tone.
  • Address the student by name.
  • Deal with only the issue brought up in the email.
  • Do not address personal matters via email. (If you need to address such issues, use the telephone.)
  • Limit your response to two or three lines. (“The more you write, the more ammunition you’re giving them to get angry all over again,” Brown said.)
  • Close “Respectfully, [your name].”

“Effective Communication in Online Learning Environments,” 2010 FIU Online Conference (archived workshop, accessed December 15, 2010, at http://online.fiu.edu/faculty/professionaldevelopment/conference/2010).

Reprinted from Online Classroom (Jan. 2011): 1.