Tips & tricks on communicating with your instructor

Faculty Computer
August 25, 2017

Maybe you’re not doing so well in your classes and you think it’s a lost cause at this point. Perhaps you think you’re doing well but you aren’t sure if you’re really getting what you need to out of a class.

Instead of waiting until it’s too late, the best course of action is to talk to your instructor. Remember: they WANT to see you succeed in your classes.

Below are some tips on how to prepare for a meeting with your instructor.

  1. Pinpoint the issue: Take some time to think through what the problem is. Write it out, double check it, and nail it down. Try to remove emotion from your problem and focus on specifics. “I am not sure why I received the grade I did” or “Can you help me understand what you mean by…” are great ways to start a conversation. Keep in mind that they do want to help you out.
  2. Set up an appointment: Stopping your instructor in the hallway or after class is usually not the best way to have her undivided attention. Make an appointment so you can sit down and she can prepare to listen to your concerns.
  3. Be firm but not aggressive: Let your instructor know that you want to do well, but don’t accuse him of anything while you’re meeting. Be polite and focus the conversation on the issue, not the fact that you’re mad. If you find yourself getting mad, try a few deep breaths to calm down. Another tip is to write out exactly what you want to say and read from a script so you don’t let anger distract you.
  4. Cooperate: Know how everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten? Cooperation is one of those things! Let your instructor know that you’re willing to work with her and you want to do better. Ask how she can help you and what you can do to get help or more information.
  5. Listen: Make sure to really listen and absorb what your instructor is saying and what his advice is. It really helps to repeat back what the suggestion is to make sure you understand it.
  6. Accept responsibility: Your instructor is here to help, but ultimately you are responsible for your education. Own it! Let him know that you understand that you’re responsible and that you’re willing to put in the work.
  7. Be a problem solver: Don’t just rely on your instructor for solutions to the issue at hand. Even writing down a few ways to solve the problem before heading into the meeting is helpful. Keep an open mind to what your instructor has to say and be willing to try new tactics.
  8. Spell it out: Before you leave your meeting, make sure you understand what your instructor expects of you: write it down, repeat it back to your instructor, and make sure you’re on the same page. Set up a timeline for when things need to get done or when you’ll touch base with your instructor next.
  9. Thank your instructor! This is huge. Give you instructor a big thank you for her time.
Kate Wallace
Posted in Only at SCTCC