Thursday, September 8, 2016

You Don't Have To Be BFFs With Your Instructor, But...

Two men riding a tandem bike. Are they teacher and student? BFFs?

I see you, sitting in the very back of the class. You take your graded test back with a frown and shove it into your backpack, rushing out of the door as soon as class is over. But guess what? You're not the only person who's ever struggled in a class. We're in college to succeed, right? Whatever your reason for being here is, you want to succeed at it. It gets a little depressing when it doesn't come so easy.

When thinking of the components of what makes a successful college experience, one thing that comes to mind is the importance of developing a relationship with your instructors. I don't mean that you have to become BFFs, have family BBQs together, and paint each other's toenails, but it's important to make an effort. Introduce yourself, make a comment or ask a question about the lesson, tell a joke. Smile (at least just once.)

The reasoning isn't to try to butter up your teacher or curry favors. When you allow an instructor to get to know you, at least a little, then they're in a better position to help you pass their class. Believe it or not, that's what they're there for! Instructors want their students to learn, and they want them to succeed. You want to succeed. You're on the same side. If you're struggling with a subject have a conversation with your instructor. Stick around after class instead of slinking away. Or email and make an appointment to speak in private. Be honest about the areas in which you're struggling and ask what you can do to improve. Let them help.

Succeeding in college is really a team effort between you, your instructors, and your advisor. Make sure the rest of your team knows who you are! It's a small effort that can pay off big. Help them help you.

Got a question? Introduce yourself to your advisor. They are selected to help you get through the maze of academics and on to graduation. Don't know who your advisor is? Log into the MyVolState portal, click on "Academics", and select your term.

Originally published 03/24/16, Updated 03/01/17

Gaynell Buffinet Payne is a writer, single mother, and student at Volunteer State Community College. She also blogs for Vol State's Returning Adult Learners.


Ken said...

This article is presented well, and is much needed. Especially in classes where the instruction is delivered via computer, it is gratifying to be able to see a student as a real person, with a personality. I succeed when my students succeed, and I am in the classroom to help.

Ken Thomas
Adjunct in Math

Anonymous said...

I think this is wise advice. Instructors don't expect students to be perfect. In fact, making mistakes is a big part of the learning and growing process. And, personally, getting to know my students make my job more interesting and fun!

Lesa Blackwell
Adjunct in Business & Technology