This week’s question is one that I find unbelievably fun. It’s one of those factors that most grade increasing advice ignores: the subjectivity of educators.
The stuff you write about trying to make teachers like you makes sense. It’s one of those things people tell you you’re crazy for thinking about but I’ve definitely seen the difference. I don’t think I’m very good at it though. What kind of things should I do to win teachers over?
People are rather sensitive about this subject. If you suggest teachers might occasionally let their personal biases get in the way of fair grading then you’re treated like you’re stomping on the heroic efforts of noble men and women sacrificing their lives for the children. It’s rather annoying (and fun once you no longer have to deal with them regularly.)
Teachers are humans. Here is the most important factor: People hate suck-ups!
I’m serious. Winning over teachers has nothing to do with kissing their butts. Sure, you shouldn’t attack them verbally but you should not make any effort to win them over that looks obvious. If you look at all like a suck up then you’ll kill your chances at the teacher improving your grade over it. The teacher will think, “Oh… they’re a suckup. I better not give them extra credit because they’re nice to me.” You need to play likability subtly.
Eyes Up Front
One of the easiest ways of winning over a teacher is paying attention in their class. Not only that but pay attention in a blatantly obvious way. Keep your eyes on your teacher while they’re teaching. (Ideally not in a creepy way.) Teachers look over their students while they’re teaching. Many students stare down at their desk. Many students stare at the student in front of them’s tush. Many students stare down at their phone. Some students are actually looking back at the teacher. Those students are the students that the teacher feels respected and appreciated by.
I know it sucks sometimes during a super boring teacher’s lecture. That’s what makes it so useful. Oh yea… and don’t let your eyes glaze over. Actually look like you’re paying attention. This may not be easy for some of you but it’s worth it. You can learn more in this article.
Of course, in classrooms with tons of students this becomes less and less important. In fact, in those huge classrooms you can expect winning over the teacher to be much less important. (Heck, the teacher might not even grade the papers in those classes.)
Do The Work (Or Be Clear Why You Didn’t)
Teachers appreciate students that do their work. If you’re not doing the classes work then you look like a flake that will just lower the teachers average final score. Teachers like their students doing well in their class. Not doing the teachers work typically means you won’t do well.
This comes into conflict with some advice that I’d typically give. Sometimes work isn’t worth doing because they have such a small effect on your final grade. In this situation I’d recommend honesty or a balance between the two.
Use Their Resources
If a teacher has open office hours then consider using them to get help on work. One of the biggest challenges to getting liked by a teacher without being an obvious suck up is getting noticed by that teacher. If you meet them in their office hours and can ask them a genuine question then you’re significantly more likely to be noticed for the positive things you’re doing.
Ultimately, being liked by a teacher often just comes down to being a good student. Teachers are teachers, generally, because they like being teachers. Let them be the teachers that they want to be. Just help them feel more like teachers (and not babysitters) and you’ll win over most teachers in no time.
This is an absolutely essential read for anyone on this blog.
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