Each school year brings uncertainty as well as a fresh opportunity for students. You’ll inevitably be confronted with challenges, often in the form of new teachers and peers. However, building lasting, positive relationships with your teachers or professors can go a long way toward improving your educational experience. Below are five tips to keep in mind as a student.
1. Start on the right foot
When meeting and getting to know new teachers, it’s important to make a good impression. Your teachers want to see the best version of you, but it’s your job to show them that! If you ask and answer questions, behave in class, and show a passion and willingness to learn, your teachers will recognize you as a model student no matter your grades.
2. Bring enthusiasm to the classroom
Most teachers love their subjects, and many went into teaching to share their own enthusiasm with their students. Even if a certain class isn’t your best subject, showing interest in the material and keeping a positive attitude can strengthen your bond with the teacher and even improve your grades if you’re struggling.
3. Engage on a personal level
Teachers are people too! Despite what some students might imagine, they have lives and hobbies outside of school or office hours that they’re often eager to discuss. Don’t pry, but don’t shy away from having conversations with your teachers about their interests as well as your own. Getting to know them and sharing your unique personality can be extremely fulfilling. Plus, if they know you well, they may be able to connect you with unique opportunities tailored to you as an individual or write great letters of recommendation.
4. Ask for help when you need it
Teachers and professors don’t want their students to suffer in silence or fall short of their personal and academic goals. It’s important to be considerate of their busy schedules, but they will usually find time if you have questions about the material or additional ideas you’d like to share. Don’t be afraid to talk one-on-one! The worst-case scenario is they can’t answer your question or are busy and need to reschedule. Even then, you’ll be glad you at least asked.
5. Respect their rules and actions
It takes patience and an even keel to be a successful teacher, but most don’t want to repeat themselves or have their rules tested again and again, especially at the high school or collegiate level. If a teacher gives you a definite no—whether it’s about extra credit, group work, or another request—they probably have a good reason. It may be best to just accept their answer if they say it is final. But this all depends on their personality and your relationship—that’s why it’s so important to get to know them.
Whether you’re in middle school, high school, or college, you truly get what you give when it comes to education. Some students may have a natural aptitude for a subject, but focus, effort, and attitude generally make a greater difference in a person’s overall performance. Going the extra mile to connect with your teachers or professors can benefit you in tangible ways, including recommendations, club positions, and opportunities. Most importantly, however, enduring bonds with teachers expose you to new knowledge and ideas and foster growth on a personal level.
Looking for more advice from real students who know their stuff? Explore all the articles under our “student advice” tag!