Whether we like to admit it or not, there’s no denying how important a teacher is to our results at school. They teach us the content, set most of our exams and assignments, and actually mark most of them too. That means, for the most part, that your fate is kind of in their hands.
Figuring out the best way to work with your teacher is key to giving yourself the best chance of getting the best results not only in your assessments, but also just out of your class time too. And it all comes down to using them and their knowledge as much as you can.
Here are our four tips for making the most of your most important classroom relationship:
1. One-on-one conversations
Most of your interactions with your teachers are going to be as part of your class, which simply can’t be avoided. But that does not mean that the door is totally closed to getting some one-on-one feedback.
Conversations before or after class, or at scheduled office hours, are a great way to get some insight or clarification on a particular topic or assignment you might not have fully grasped when covered in class. It is also a good time to just sit down and go through exam strategy, some sample responses, or any other questions you might have that require a little more time and attention.
If you’re feeling a bit anxious or self-conscious about seeking out this one-on-one time, try to remember that the vast majority of your teachers will actually be delighted to get the chance to help you, and go a little more in-depth with an individual student. So take the leap and see what happens, you’ve got nothing to lose.
2. Debate a mark, don’t argue it
We all know the feeling. You feel like you’ve smashed an essay, are confidently ready to collect your band 6 graded paper – and then it comes back with an average mark 😥. The sense of injustice is real, and you feel as though there’s only one person to blame: yourself your teacher.
Then that wave comes over you. The natural impulse there is to rant and rave at your teacher, tell them all the ways they’re wrong and you’re right. One word of advice – don’t. All you’ll do is shut the door to any chance of a conversation with them about it.
Instead, approach the teacher maturely. Listen to what they have to say, then state your case. You might end up walking away with a new, higher mark, or you might walk away seeing clearly where you went wrong. Either way, rationally debating the mark is going to be much more productive than arguing about it.
3. Engage in class
It sounds so simple that you might be sitting there rolling your eyes, but it does need to be said. Actively engaging in class is going to have a positive knock-on effect with your results. What does that mean? Active engagement doesn’t mean just sitting there on your laptop, doing something you shouldn’t be doing waiting for the class to end. That won’t help your marks at all. The best way to actively engage in class is to stop your teacher and ask questions to deepen your understanding of a topic, or answering the ones your teacher asks, you could even participate in class discussion. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
Let’s be clear – we’re not saying your teacher is going to bump you up just because you ask a lot of questions. But if you are engaging in the classroom, you’ll have a better understanding of what your teacher wants from you, and they’ll have a stronger grasp of how you express your own thoughts and ideas.
Putting your hand up in class might seem intimidating or even a bit lame, but in the long run, it will mean good things for your understanding of the subject, and ultimately your results 💪.
4. Make sure you respond to feedback
There’s a temptation, when we get an assignment or exam back, to just look at the result and then get on with our lives like nothing ever happened. But most of the time, there will probably be a good deal of written feedback on the assignment from your teacher. Ignoring this is a definite no-no.
One thing that teachers absolutely love is to clearly see, in a follow-up assignment, how a student has responded to a particular piece of criticism they have been given. Carefully reading what your teacher has said about your work, and making a point of addressing that the next chance you get, is as good a way as any to see a favourable bump in the marks you’re getting. Remember, your teachers aren’t giving you feedback to upset and criticise you in a bad way, it’s there as a little hint for next time to help you improve and get better marks!
It can sometimes feel awkward to try and work directly with your teacher, but honestly, taking that leap will make a huge difference in the long run towards boosting your classroom productivity and your results. Engaging one-on-one, in the classroom, and with the feedback your teacher gives you, will help build that relationship and bump you up to a new level where you’ll never look back 🙌.