Have you ever had a teacher who you felt was unfair? In my experience with students I hear the following phrases:

  • My teacher doesn’t like me.
  • My teacher treats the other students different than me.
  • My teacher doesn’t answer my questions.
  • My teacher is mean.

It is no secret that communication is key. I believe it is vital that we teach students communication skills in order to help them build healthy relationships and gain conflict-resolution skills. When students have these skills they feel more connected to their classroom, their teacher, and their school, because they have a voice.

Just about every student, at one time or another has struggled to maintain or improve their grades. For students to succeed here, it’s important to communicate with and build relationships with their teachers. However, many students tend to avoid their teachers for reasons like they think their teachers will judge them, they think the teacher will tell them information they already know, they don’t like their teacher or think their teacher doesn’t like them, or they believe they will be judged by their peers as “not cool” for talking to their teacher. Check out Student Futures’ Learn Like a Ninja book for communication strategies and more.

Tips for How to Talk to Teachers

1. Make an appointment. Teachers are very busy so schedule a time to talk rather than trying to discuss something in the middle of class or right after class.

2. Talk to your teacher with a fellow classmate. If you know other students who are having the same issue(s) as you then go to the teacher together.

3. Plan ahead. Write down what you want to say beforehand. Write down any questions you have and if it is regarding a particular assignment or test, make sure you have the necessary paperwork.

4. Use your words.  Don’t say negative words like “boring” or “I don’t like writing.” Ask questions that are not insulting, such as “Can you suggest a good way to get started?” Let your teacher know that you want to do well and how important it is for you to be able to succeed. When you ask questions about an assignment instead of saying “I don’t get it.” Be specific and explain what part of the assignment you don’t understand.

5. Be a problem solver.  Don’t expect your teacher to solve an issue for you. Propose a solution to your teacher.

6. Be empathetic. Try to look at the situation from your teacher’s point of view. Be respectful. Teachers have feelings too. Don’t ever go to a teacher with an angry tone. It will not solve anything.

7. Listen! It is important to listen respectfully to your teacher. The teacher may tell you something you don’t know, which could be of great help.

8. If you think it is “uncool” to talk to your teachers, then revisit your values. How important is it to you, to succeed? Communication with your teacher, the person you see everyday, is key to your success. Take advantage!

9. Don’t make assumptions. You don’t know what your teacher is thinking. Don’t assume they don’t like you. Talk to them! You may be surprised what comes out of the conversation. The reality is your teacher may not like you. Remember, if you have the right not to like them then, they have the right not to like you. We are all human. You can’t control the actions of others, but you can choose how you react to them.

10. Learn from the experience. Even if the conversation with your teacher doesn’t go the way you hoped at least now you have a clearer picture of your teacher’s expectations. Now, you know what to do in the future. Hopefully, your teacher learned from the experience as well. Don’t forget to SAY THANK YOU.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.