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Interacting With Instructors

 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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 time.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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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