The semester is officially going and it’s coming in like a lion! This semester I am teaching College Success, Developmental Reading III, and Writing, Reading, and Reasoning. In all I have 150 students with whom I work. Most professors have this many students so it’s important that students know how to communicate effectively with your professors.
Do unto others: Creating a working relationship with instructors
Office Visit: Take time to go by your professor’s office at the beginning of the semester. You are your own advocate and public relations manager! With so many new names and faces for the professor to remember, you offer the opportunity for your name and face to be remembered. This comes in handy when you have a question or personal conflict that alters your performance in the class. In other words, working with the professor during the early stages of the course means that you will establish a positive report for the entire semester.
Email protocol: (Check out the link to To: Professor@University.edu Subject: Why It’s All About Me)
When emailing a professor be sure to address them with a respectful tone. This means that you address them as a professor rather than “Hey” or simply beginning with a question or comment. Do ask for assistance and clarification from your instructor. Do include all the essential information in your email such as:
- your name (as it is written on the course role)
- contact information
- the course and section you are in
- a clearly stated question with proper rules of grammar and punctuation applied.
Does this sound like too much effort? Well, the effort does pay off! As a professor, I cannot even pretend to know every student by name and email address, so you need to clearly communicate. In so doing, you will get a more effective answer, have fewer email exchanges, and communicate that you are a competent student who cares about your work. Of course, not doing this communicates the opposite… that you are sliding by hoping to do the minimum work.
One final word about emails… If you miss class, DO NOT email a message asking IF you missed anything. YOU MISS VITAL INFORMATION WHEN YOU MISS CLASS… ALWAYS! Simply letting your professor know you had car trouble is adequate. In order to get the “missed” information YOU need to contact a fellow student in the class and get their notes. Then, you may stop by the professor’s office during office hours and ask any questions you have AFTER reading the notes.
Phone messages: Professors telephones are land lines and do not have the ability to store your phone number… When leaving a message ALWAYS leave:
- your name
- course and section
- call back number
- the best time to reach you.
In Class: Questions in class are great for clarifying the assignments or course materials. Most professors allow time at the beginning and/or ending of class for questions.
Before you ask a question in class, review all of the course materials to make sure it is not already written for you. Asking a question that is addressed in the course materials communicates to your professor that you did not read the assignment, directions, or syllabus. As a result, you do not look like a student who genuinely cares about the work or the professors time.
Also, before you ask a question, determine if this question is specific to your situation rather than the entire class as a group. If the question pertains tot he group, ask the question. If the question does not address the needs of the group, ask the question during the professor’s office hours. This builds good will among your classmates since you are not wasting class time to focus on you. Your professor will appreciate this as well.