River Deep, Mountain High

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 30 2012

Top 15 Signs That You Are Reading an OFFICIAL Teach For America Email

I’ve had this post on deck for some time now, because I didn’t want to offend anyone. However, now that I am managing corps members of my own, there are certain strategies that I’ve incorporated from my time with TFA. During my two corps years, I often heard my peers complain about the uniform, inauthentic emails we regularly received from Teach For America staff. Personally, I mostly enjoyed the straightforward layout of our weekly “blasts” from our region, but my amazing MTLD (manager) did a much better job of keeping me entertained and informed especially during my 2nd year when some are inclined to tune out; I definitely learned a lot from her style. That said, in the middle of a stressful week, it’s fair to acknowledge that “urgent” requests from the TFA machine can be a turn off for a lot of people. Thankfully, TFA emails have improved overall since I originally wrote this last summer. Seriously, though, I do appreciate TFA’s attempts to improve their communication strategies as it’s a tough thing to do in a time filled with distractions. I try to keep a positive… wait for it… Outlook.

Without further delay,

You know you’re reading an OFFICIAL Teach For America email when:

1. There is a seemingly

  • endless
  • supply
  • of
  • bullet points
  • !

2. The important stuff is CAPITALIZED, bolded, underlined, italicized, and/or a special color!

3. EVERYTHING is important!!!!!
4. The subject line reads “URGENT / HIGH PRIORITY: WILL ONLY TAKE 5 MINS!!!” (lies!)
5. Everyone up the chain of command is cc’d… and bcc’d
6. You have to fill out a “quick” survey to evaluate some person, place, thing, or idea.
7. You already completed the aforementioned survey…
8. …Twice.
9. You are told to review a schedule / agenda that’s posted on TFAnet… somewhere… we think! (Dang, where’d it go? Must be time for another update).
10. There are also other attachments to read…like, five of them.
11. You’re asked to volunteer for something that requires waking up by 7am…on a Saturday – #YOLO!!

12. There is a strong possibility of getting free fried catfish!*
13. Your “failure to read the entire message could jeopardize your AmeriCorps Award.”^
14. The email in question is the only unread email in your inbox.^
15. The email references two previous TFA emails, which you also did not read. *^*

*. Catfish is a Mississippi Delta staple, along with Kool-Aid pickles.

^. Unless it involves your AmeriCorps award money.

*^*. Unless it involves your AmeriCorps award or free food. Don’t touch my money or my catfish!


Yikes! I hope I avoid the pitfalls and keep all emails relevant for my CMs. Only time will tell.


Comments? What’s your favorite strategy for keeping emails pertinent and engaging?

3 Responses

  1. DC Chillin

    I just got an email today that satisfies maybe 13 or so of the 15. Definitely threatens something about AmeriCorps awards, PDS, and a survey.

  2. My favorite strategy for keeping emails pertinent and engaging is to only send them when the topic is actually something pertinent and engaging to the recipient. Also, the fewer words, the better.

  3. Holla on the few words. Also, when using gmail, I try to include as many dancing crabs as possible. I have a feeling most people hate this, but it somehow makes me feel better.

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