Ten Things You Should Never Say Or Do
To Your Instructor
Good students anticipate the impact of what they
say and do by seeing things from the instructor's perspective.
Here are some things that a good student will NEVER say or do,
along with the reasons why:
- Are we going to be here for the whole period? Your instructor
has taken the time to plan a learning exercise based on the
assumption that you are available and willing to participate
for the entire scheduled class period. Your suggestion that
things should end early implies that you are not particularly
interested in the course topic. Why then, should the instructor
be interested in you?
- Is any of this going to be on the exam? Always assume (unless
told otherwise) that what your instructor is saying is important
material and subject to coverage on an examination. Instructors
are professional and busy people who would not clutter their
lives (or yours!) with irrelevant details just to fill class
- I can't make it to class today. Are we going to discuss anything
important? This question is a subset of the previous one, and
once again suggests that you think your instructor would waste
class time with unimportant material. It's a sure-fire way to
get on the instructor's bad side.
- Is there anything extra that I can do to improve my grade?
Instructors always assume that you've read the course syllabus
and know what assignments are used to determine grades. Unless
a special, extra assignment has been offered in class, never
assume that you deserve some special treatment unavailable to
other students. Work hard on the regular assignments and you
shouldn't need extra assignments to salvage your grade.
- We're having a keg party at the frat/sorority/apartment tomorrow
night. Would you like to come? Although many instructors will
gladly accept invitations to University sanctioned social events
sponsored by student groups, they will likely not participate
in "casual" events that could possibly be construed
as influencing student grades. Please avoid putting your instructors
in this uncomfortable situation by respecting their professional
responsibility to remain unbiased judges of your academic effort.
- Is it OK if I call you at home for help? Your instructor
will make his/her policy on calls to home very clear in the
course syllabus. Instructor's have personal lives too and need
to escape the stresses of campus life while at home. Be sure
to read and understand the information in your course syllabus
and respect the instructor's policy on privacy at home.
- Ask to copy the instructor's notes. As a student, you are
expected to attend class and take your own notes. Missing a
class is not grounds for expecting the instructor to provide
you with their personal notes on that material. Not only would
you likely not understand the instructor's short hand, but you
will also send a message that you expect the instructor to do
a critical part of the coursework for you. If you need to get
notes, talk to one of your classmates.
- Disrupt class. Every college instructor makes the assumption
that you are in class to learn. Disruptions of any kind, be
they talking, persistent tardiness, sleeping/snoring, doing
work for other classes, reading the newspaper, or behavior that bothers or endangers
classmates will not be tolerated. One of the quickest ways to
reduce your status in the eyes of an instructor is to engage
in disruptive behavior. Since you are now legally considered
an adult, you should behave like one.
- Use a cell phone in class. The recent proliferation of cell
phones has made these useful communication devices potential
sources of classroom disruption. If you carry a cell phone,
please turn it off before coming to class. Also ask your friends
not to call you during class time. If you must have your phone
on for a legitimate reason, then inform the instructor of your
circumstances before class begins and exit the room should you
need to receive or make a call.
- Discuss details of your personal problems. You will find a wide
range of comfort level in terms of how willing instructors are
to discuss your personal problems. Some will be very concerned,
others more distant. Regardless of how helpful your instructors
are, they will all have a point beyond which they are either professionally
unqualified, or simply unwilling, to become involved in your personal
situation. You should respect these boundaries, and instead ask
your instructor for help identifying other trained University
personnel who are better able to assist you.
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