Patch Fifteen: A Two Way Street

Effective Relationship Building with your Teacher

Brittney Babin, Cambrian College

I believe that a student-teacher mutual respect level is important. Building this relationship can make you more comfortable with your writing, a better student, a better employee in your future career, and maybe even a better person. Writing about feelings isn’t easy when you don’t know your teacher or feel comfortable with them. I’ve personally found it challenging to write about certain things I’ve been asked to write about because I was afraid of being looked at differently for expressing such vulnerability in my writing. However, in high school I had a teacher that made me feel comfortable and I know I became a better student because of it. When you have an effective relationship with your teacher you may not be afraid to be wrong or ask questions. If you follow me through this, I can tell you a little bit about how I think this may help you with your studies.

Don’t you find it interesting how sometimes you barely know a teacher but they expect you to write papers with vulnerability and emotion? You show up to class a couple times and then they want you to write to them from a deep place of feelings. Some of us have a hard-enough time doing this with our loved ones, let alone someone we’ve known for 3 hours per week. Does anyone else find it challenging? I really noticed this when I was told to write a reflection paper during my third week of college. Which means at this point I had spent 12 hours with this professor in this one particular class. While I was writing it, I kept thinking of how I wanted to put things in this paper, but I didn’t know my professor that well and I definitely didn’t want her to feel sorry for me, or judge me based on what I wrote about. I like this teacher and I don’t think she would have judged me now that I’ve built a relationship with her but at the time I had barely talked to her and didn’t feel that comfortable. Believe me, I’m not saying that you should be every teacher or professor’s best friend, but I believe that in order for you to reach your optimal level of success within your writing, you should feel comfortable enough to share feelings, experiences, and anything else you may need to.

With that being said, building this said relationship with your teacher is a two-way street. Showing up to their class on time, being respectful, and staying engaged into their lessons will help you earn the respect that you’re looking for. Like anyone else, teachers don’t want to go out of their way to help someone that doesn’t want the help. I’m not a teacher, but I am human, and I don’t want to help anyone that doesn’t want the help. What I’m trying to say is don’t be that disrespectful kid in class that talks to the person beside them during a lecture and interrupts everybody. They don’t like that and neither do your classmates for that matter! Earning their respect shouldn’t be hard if you use your common sense and your simple manners. It’s a mutual respect that you need to contribute to building and who knows what you’ll learn?

In my opinion, I don’t believe it’s much to ask to expect a non-judgement and safe environment from your teacher that allows you to feel as though you can open up. In order to build that trust, you’d hope your professor is friendly and approachable because nobody wants to open up to anyone tight-fisted and grumpy. Normally if you respect them, they will respect you, with my experience anyways. You’d hope that their door is always open, and that they can answer questions you may have; whether it be in class, after class, or by email. This will help you find the answer that you’re looking for as well as make you feel like they’re there for you academically. You should also hope that they have the passion for their job and genuinely want to help you succeed, which I think most of them really do quite honestly.

Sometimes teachers come around that leave an imprint on you and you just never forget them. Come on, I bet everyone has a teacher like this! One that nagged you a lot but made sure you never forgot a certain skill or lesson? Or maybe one that made learning so fun for you? One that made you realize your love for a subject? For me, it was my grade 10 English Teacher; Miss Edwards, she was great! I never enjoyed English before her, but she taught me that writing can be fun and actually made me enjoy it. I was always embarrassed to write about my feelings but she made me feel comfortable and with that came vulnerability within my writing, which lead to better essays, and better grades too. I could ask her anything, and she wouldn’t judge. She was one of those teachers that was meant to be a teacher. I don’t think she ever knew that she had this impact on me, but she did.

Who knows, maybe you’re someone that doesn’t have to establish comfort to write papers about what you’re feeling in detail, but I am. I can’t be the only one who feels like this, can I? Well, if you’re like me, maybe you will think building an effective relationship with your teacher can open up new doors to better writing. Feeling as though they are approachable and kind might make you feel safe to write about thoughts and feelings. With that should come feeling confident and comfortable to ask questions without fear of being wrong, after all, we do learn from failure! Maybe you could even want to stay engaged into their lectures…the whole time…all 3 hours of it. And maybe…just maybe… they can leave a lasting impression on you.

image credit: “Busy Street” flickr photo by HerrHerrmann.net https://flickr.com/photos/bastman99/26432450487 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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