Some professors can be seen as inaccessible, unlikable, or even intimidating, causing the relationship between students and teachers to become strained. But your professors are there to help you, and it might fall on you to maintain that relationship in order to make your academic career flourish. If you’re someone who finds it challenging to talk with your professors one-on-one, here are some helpful teacher tips for you. Meeting with your teacher can prove to them that you are dedicated to their class and willing to work harder than the bare minimum. Needless to say, talking to them if you have questions or concerns can give you an incredible advantage. With that in mind, here are some of the best teacher tips to help your meetings with professors go smoothly.
1) Be Honest
It might be embarrassing to admit that you have not payed attention during class or skipped some homework, but knowledge like that is hugely important for your professor to actually help you. If you are experiencing any personal hardships that might be affecting your dedication to their class, let them know. You don’t need to dive into any details if you don’t want to, but what’s important is that they actually know what’s going on with you. Some professors are even willing to adjust their teaching style to help their students. But, if they aren’t, they will let you know what can be done to improve your situation. You might feel awkward about sharing personal info, but it’s likely that your professor has heard it all before.
2) Schedule An Appointment
This might feel like an obvious teacher tip, but some students think the best way to meet with their professor is to drop in unannounced. Even if they are holding office hours, they may have a scheduled appointment or prior engagement. Send your professor an email or sign up online, but find a way to ensure you two can have a private meeting that doesn’t mess up either of your schedules.
Grades can be a tricky subject with professors. Your grades are important to you, and for good reason, but it might be awkward to talk about grades with some teachers. Don’t open any conversation with grades. You should start any discussion with how things are going for you, or how your work is going. Grades aren’t a taboo subject by any means, but make it obvious that your goal is overall improvement, not just a letter. This isn’t a strict rule, but it is a good way to make your relationship with your professor more natural and less forced. If your teacher feels that all you are after is a grade, they might feel less obligated to help you.
4) Personal Life
We’re all people, and everyone has a personal life. Don’t feel pressured to keep your conversation purely professional. Teachers understand that your personal life affects how your classes go. Again, if you are uncomfortable sharing something, you are free to tell them that. But, on the other hand, your relationship with your professor is just that: a relationship. Being on good terms with your professor is a good foundation for a relationship that can be helpful for the both of you. Joke around with your professor or tell them a personal anecdote. Just remember to be yourself!
5) Be Prepared
An extremely useful teacher tip is to have a few specific questions prepared before any meeting. A professor might not remember what you have struggled with, especially if you are among many in a large lecture class. Some professors let you to direct the conversation more, asking vague questions like, “How can I help you?” It’s always best to know what you want to take away from every meeting beforehand. It can be helpful to have a variety of questions─some detailed, some vague. If you show up clueless on what you want to improve regarding your class performance, your professor probably won’t be able to help you.
6) Be Polite
This is another teacher tip that might feel obvious to some, but it’s important to remember when talking to a professor. It goes without saying that you should be polite to your professor, and anyone for that matter. While it’s reasonable to be casual with a professor, some students take it way too far. A surprising amount of entitled students will demand things from their professors, expecting the professors to bend backwards to help them. Your teachers are people, and people deserve a certain level of respect. Don’t shout or demand anything from your teacher, or you might find that you aren’t welcome in their class.
7) Be Open To Critique
It’s likely that your professor will have good feedback on how to help you, so it’s important not to be overly sensitive about criticism. You can always do better, and you should always strive to be your best self. That means you need to acknowledge the areas you struggle in, whether they be personal, technical, or subject matter. Your professor knows your performance better than just about anyone else, so you should take heed of any advice they have to offer. Again, don’t take anything personally─they’re just trying to help you.
8) Arrive On Time
Whenever you have a scheduled appointment with your professor, it’s best to be on time, or even a few minutes early. Every minute you aren’t there is a wasted minute. Plus, showing up late makes your professor think you don’t care as much as you probably do. No one wants to feel like they’ve wasted their time, so do whatever it takes to get to your appointment on time.
9) Follow Up Meetings
One appointment can be helpful, but multiple are really what gives you the advantage you need. If you schedule ongoing appointments with your professors, it is much easier to see how you are improving and what other steps might be necessary. Having a series of appointments is really what establishes your relationship with your professor, so take advantage of whenever they are available.
10) Be Ready to Work
If you schedule appointments with a professor, they’re going to tell you ways to improve. That means it will be more work for you. There’s no way around it; getting better grades means working harder. Don’t try to find a way around it and just accept whatever work they give to you.
These are some of our most useful teacher tips when you need to talk to your professor. Get ready to excel at your classes, and good luck!