Sometimes it’s hard to get students to listen to what they need to hear. To the 18–22-year-old cohort, teachers can sound like parents, and that makes their messages easy to ignore. And to older learners, it’s difficult to offer advice without being condescending.
Messages that come in a different format or with a different tone can be easier for students to hear. That’s the tack we’ve taken with these Memos to Students. The messages are really important. Their contents address topics that should concern students, and teachers are in a position to offer good advice.
The memos in this collection are yours to use—whether as they are or revised to better align with the advice you think your students need to hear. Feel welcome to change the tone as well. I recommend something that sounds professionally personal, slightly informal but absolutely sincere.
I received a note from a teacher who used one of these memos. He taught a class of about 20 students. He said he personally addressed and initialed each of the memos and then handed them out in class. Much to his surprise, almost half of the students responded, either with a note or a verbal comment—usually a “thank you for the memo.” Saying thanks isn’t the same as acting on the advice, but it might signal students’ willingness to move in that direction.
P.S. We welcome entries in this collection from our readers. If you have a note you share with your students and think it of general use, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.