Imagine that you checked your inbox today to find an unexpected email. It’s from a friend whom you had a conversation with last week and they wrote, “Insert your name, I was just thinking about our conversation last week and something that you said.”
They would immediately have your attention. You’d be thinking, “Something I said was important? I wonder what it was.” Your friend goes on to tell you exactly what you said, and the impact those words had on her. They end with a question for you.Now you feel even more important!
This kind of emails tells us 1) That our friend was listening, and 2) They value our perspective.
Those are two things your students really need, and they are two things that can nurture the learning process.
So, try it. Look over a couple assignments or discussions, then send a few of your students a personal email pointing out something they wrote. It can be brief, just one sentence. Follow that up with a question, one that seeks to get more from their perspective. You can do this in your discussions and in your email correspondence.
Some succinct and effective responses you could use:
1. Tell me more about this idea. (I guess that’s not a question 🙂
2. How does your idea relate to the reading you have been doing for the course this week?
2. Unpack that for me; I want to hear more about that.