Building a positive relationship with your teacher is a key element in having a successful school year, especially for students who are struggling in a particular subject. We asked a few math teachers about the things that students can do to give them the best opportunity to succeed in math, and this is what they told us:
Show Up: It is impossible for you to hear, understand and learn the information presented in class if you aren’t there. Even if you’re sitting in class and only understand 5% of what the teacher is saying, at least you are there and showing effort. A teacher is not going to feel bad for giving you the failing grade that you earned if you didn’t bother to show up for the class. Commit to going, even if you leave frustrated or confused. Put your body in the right place and everything else will follow.
Be Present: Wait, didn’t we just say that? Actually, there is a big difference between showing up and being present. If your body is physically in the room but your mind is focused on Facebook or texting or the back of your eyelids, you aren’t going to learn anything. It is also disrespectful to the teacher, and most teachers aren’t jumping up and down to “save” a student at the end of the year that has been too busy “liking”, “commenting” and “sharing” things on Facebook or writing notes to their BFF to actually pay attention. Don’t just come to class, be an active participant. This also means asking questions when you don’t understand and contributing to class discussions.
Stop Making Excuses: Believe it or not, teachers don’t just wake up, roll out of bed, drive to school and then wait patiently for you to arrive. They get to work early for meetings, lesson plans and grading. They stay after school to get organized for the next day, hold conferences and do more grading. So don’t waste their time with excuses abut how your goldfish had a cold and you couldn’t do your homework, or even worse, blame someone else for your lack of responsibility when it comes to completing your assignments. Do the work for you, because you trust that it will help you succeed in the class. And when you choose not to do the work, be honest. Your teacher will appreciate (although may not be happy about) your honesty instead of wasting more of their time with excuses.
Be Prepared and Organized: Put your name on your work, teachers are not mind readers and (most) can’t determine whose paper is whose based on the way you draw your 9’s or the way you doodle flowers in the margins. Come to school with the supplies you need, and have some sort of system to keep everything together. When you’re organized, it helps you, the teacher and the flow of the classroom to run smoothly and with little interruptions.
Ask Questions: Many higher-level math courses have problems that involve many steps. If you don’t understand step 4, ask right away instead of waiting until the teacher completes the problem 25 steps later. It’ll help you focus on the flow of the problem, and is more than likely a question 3 or 4 other students have as well and are too shy to ask. A teacher loves when their students ask questions. It is a sign that they are paying attention and putting effort into their education. A teacher went to school specifically to learn how to teach one concept a variety of different ways, so if you need it explained in a different way, just ask. That is what they are there for.
Be Respectful: Many students who feel confused or lost in math spend their time acting out instead of investing in their education. Calling out, interrupting other classmates who want to learn, and making the teacher’s job more difficult is only going to hurt you in the long run. The other students will pass, the teacher will teach again next year, but you may find yourself repeating the class or earning a lower grade than you wanted. Put yourself in the teacher’s shoes. They have a tough job.
Suck up, but only a little: If your teacher makes it a point to mention that they love the Brisbane Broncos and you just happen to be at a game, and just happen to see a coffee mug or pen you think they would appreciate, get it for them! If you think their jokes are funny, laugh! If they taught in a way that really helped it click for you, tell them! Teachers are human too and a little appreciate can go a long way. Teachers don’t like know-it-alls or students who excessively (and annoyingly) try to suck up, but a thoughtful gift at the end of the year or a kind word after a long week is always a good way to thank teachers for a job well done.
Showing up, being an active participant in your education, being organized, prepared and respectful, along with the occasional compliment or token of appreciation can earn you major points with your teacher, and contribute greatly to a successful school year.