Everyone hates a butt-kisser.
Even the person getting their butt kissed.
I’m going to tell you something that you probably already know in your gut but you’ve been told to ignore it your whole life. It’s something that everyone around you says is just your imagination running wild. Your imagination isn’t running wild.
Some teachers don’t like you. And yes, this will impact your grade.
BUT!?! BUT?!? BUT!?!
Teachers are human.
I don’t care how many times people like to lecture you about the perfect heroism of every single person in the teaching profession and their complete objective standards at absolutely everything with absolutely everyone but they’re human.
A different name on a paper will change the grade on the paper. That’s why standardized tests remove a students name to the grader. It increases the consistency of the assessment and everyone knows it.
If a teacher likes you then you can expect a better grade than if the teacher hates you.
Now… that could be used as an excuse for you to be a lazy loser of a student. “Oh… the teacher just doesn’t like me.” You can pretend that’s not your fault and that you have some moral high ground. Then you’ll get to feel all high and mighty with your bad grades. Congrats…
This certainly isn’t an excuse for bad grades.
I’m willing to bet almost no teachers make more than a letter grade difference based on their opinion of you. If a teacher did, you’d have such an obvious case that you could get the teacher fired in a second.
The teacher might screw you out of 5 points here and there but they’re virtually never going to screw you out of real points because they don’t like you.
Why Make Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be
Don’t upset your teachers. This is particularly true if you want to score near the top of your class.
Why risk your grades by upsetting teachers when it’s so easy to keep most of them happy?
In fact, following a few basic guidelines, you can make yourself one of their favorite students (without butt-kissing and without spending all day on it.)
I’m all about efficient strategies to improve your grades. Keeping your teachers happy can be one of the easiest ways to improve your final scores. It’s a way of guaranteeing the rounding errors end up in your favor. And… if you want, it’s a way to get bonus help whenever you’re struggling with a concept.
The first step to making happy teachers is easy…
Step 1: Don’t Upset Them!
But many students are willing to break this rule.
It’s the one rule that absolutely no students should be willing to compromise on. Following it is just a simple matter of politeness.
You know when you’re grandparent gives you that big kiss and you want to wipe it off, wash your face and say, “GROSSS!!!” As a child, you might have actually done that. As you get older, you start to realize that it doesn’t help. It’s much easier to put on a big fake smile and tell her it’s nice to see her. (Then you politely excuse yourself and wash your face in the bathroom.)
That’s how you should treat your teacher relationships. (Unless they actually kiss you because yuck.)
Your teacher probably means the best. They want to help. They may not know what’s best but at least they are making an effort.
Be polite to their efforts.
The simplest rules are the best:
- Don’t talk when they’re talking
- Look like you’re listening to them
- Thank them when they help or try to help you
Do this and you’ll save your grade from unnecessary point losses.
Step 2: Don’t Go Out Of Your Way Just To Make Them Happy
Suck ups go out of their way to compliment people and make them feel good.
Have you ever had anyone suck up to you?
No? Then don’t worry… it’s not as nice as you might think it is.
If you have experienced it then you might already be aware… it can get a little annoying.
At first, it’s great. They’re complimenting you. They’re offering to help you. It’s certainly appreciated but after a few minutes of it you begin to realize what’s happening. This person is trying to win your favor because they want something out of you.
And when you figure that out, you start refusing favors because you don’t want to owe them anything but they just won’t take the hint. They’ll keep offering and offering while you politely refuse. It’s just annoying after a while.
Sure… everyone loves a compliment but when you’re pushing too hard to win someone’s favor, they’re not going to like it.
What does this mean?
- If the teacher helps you then you can thank them. Don’t randomly thank them.
- If the teacher does something worth complimenting then compliment them. If not, don’t do it.
- If you can help the teacher and want to then offer but don’t insist.
- Do not repeat the same compliment, offer or thank you. (Sometimes you can but don’t push it.)
Notice how most of these first two steps is avoiding doing things to hurt your relationship with the teacher. This is essential just politeness and not becoming a suck-up. It requires no time investment at all. It’s easy.
Step 3: Let Them Feel Human
This section is mostly for US style schools. I realize it’s a little more complicated in some parts of the world.
Teachers are not a different species.
How would you greet your friend? That’s how you can treat your teacher. Most of the time, the teacher won’t mind. If they do mind then they’ll let you know.
That being said, ideally, just greet your teacher a little more politely than you would your friend.
But greet them. That’s what people do to other people.
(Of course, if you’re in a class of 50+ people then this is less practical. If it’s an option, it helps.)
You don’t have to greet your teacher but that’s the way you need to think about your relationship with your teacher. They’re people too.
Smile at your teacher. They’ll almost always smile back.
If you’re shy then good news! Keep being shy and just treat teachers like you would any other friend. Don’t force yourself to do this stuff but don’t treat teachers like royalty in a higher class than you.
Again… this should take no extra effort.
Step 4: Let Them Feel Smart/Heroic
Somewhere in your teacher’s brain, they’re probably thinking:
“I became a teacher to help students learn.”
I know… I know… a lot of these teachers have lost sight of this goal but most are really making an effort at it. They might get caught up in their paychecks and the same old routine but it’s still inside them. If they get evidence they’re making a positive difference then they will feel fantastic about themselves. Them feeling good about themselves is them feeling good about you too.
This doesn’t mean suck up. Don’t do this if you’re going to push into sucking up. It’s better to not to this and not suck up. If you’re worried you’re turning into a suckup then stop immediately.
How do you make the teachers feel good about themselves (and you)?
1. Ask them a good question they can answer.
2. Respond to show you understand their answer.
This can and should be almost completely natural to you.
Don’t just ask, “How did you find the square root of that?” They answer. Then you respond.” Okay…” while you stare off into space.
Instead ask, “How did you find the square root of that?” They answer. Then you respond. “Oh… so if we were looking for the square root of this other number then we would do this.” And if the teacher confirms you’re right then you can say. “Okay. Thanks!”
Notice that you just gave the teacher blatant evidence they helped you.
There is an old trick Benjamin Franklin used to make new friends out of enemies.
He would ask the person a favor. If the person did the favor then they became Ben’s friend because people do favors for their friends. No… they weren’t friends doing each other favors. The friendship developed because he got the person to do him a favor.
People like to help people. It makes them feel important.
This may or may not be true but in my experience, it’s very very true.
Make your teachers feel important and they’ll love having you in their class. And you do almost nothing different than usual.