How to have a good relationship with your teacher

Classroom by Chris Campbell

Last week I attended a course about the Perl Programming Language. It was a three day course taught in a classroom environment with presented modules and exercises. This was the first technical course I have been on for a long time, these days I usually teach them. It’s always interesting to see how other trainers do things differently. But the most interesting thing I noticed was the way I acted differently from the rest of the class.

During my experience as a technical trainer I have accumulated a list of things that annoy me. Things that show disrespect to the teacher. Things that I consciously avoid doing.

Developing a good relationship with your teacher is mutually beneficial. Enthusiasm to learn will be rewarded with enthusiastic teaching and a lively dynamic environment for everyone. There are a few easy things you can do to develop a good relationship with your teacher:

Sit at the front

Whenever I run a course the first people to arrive always grab the seats at the back. If it is a small class the first two rows might be left empty and I will have to tell everyone to move forward.

Sitting at the back is an obvious attempt to distance yourself from the teacher. It suggests a lack of enthusiasm or an intention to subtly get on with other things while the class is in progress.

Sit at the front. It will be easier to see the board and interact with the teacher. Likewise it will be easier for the teacher to create diagrams that everyone can see and interact with their students.

Call out answers (even if they’re obvious or complete guesses)

When I am teaching I try to establish a dialogue with the class. I pose questions to to assess understanding of the material or to let the class work things out for themselves. Unfortunately establishing a dialogue is hard. At the beginning of a course questions will often fall flat as no one feels confident enough to shout an answer.

I try to warm up the audience or pick on individuals to get things started. But why not make it easier for the teacher? If they ask a question shout out the answer. If the answer is obvious or a complete guess don’t be afraid to shout it out, it will indicate your level of understanding so your teacher can set an appropriate pace.

Be on time

Be in your seat, ready to learn, at the advertised time. This goes for the beginning of the course, after lunch and after any other breaks. It’s not fair on the teacher or the rest of the class if they have to wait for you or repeat material that you missed.

Close your laptop when the presenter is speaking

I had a friend at university who would read newspapers during lectures; huge rustling broadsheets held up in-front of his face. If you’re not going to pay attention there is no point in being there. You should go somewhere else where you can read the news in peace without insulting the lecturer.

With laptops it’s slightly different. In classes I have taught everyone needs a computer to get on with the exercises. But please close the lid or turn off the screen during the presentations. Teachers can tell that you’re not taking notes. You’re just distracting yourself with facebook and twitter and the teacher will have to re-explain everything that you’ve missed.

Say thank you

Standing up and talking is surprisingly tiring work. A thank you at the end of the course will always be appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

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One Comment

  1. Maureen
    Posted June 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I could not agree with this more. The students I remember are the ones who were punctual, answered questions quickly and to the best of their ability, asked questions when they didn’t understand and also paid attention when I was speaking. When put into a situation where one is a teacher and one is a listener or one is a sales assistant and one is a customer people seems to forget common courtesy. All manners go out of the window and they forget you’re only human.

    Also in doing so you’ve got nothing to lose and lots to gain.

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