How to Become Teacher’s Pet
Monday, May 14, 2012 Expert Advice
By Amber Cook, Senior Writing Specialist and Faculty Liaison
So, show of hands: Did you do anything special for your instructors during teacher appreciation week last week? If your hand isn’t raised, I have a list of suggestions that will make up for your oversight.
As the Writing Center’s faculty liaison, I have frequent conversations with instructors, all of whom are eager to help students refine their scholarly writing skills. Without exception, these faculty members are inspired and impressed by your hard work and passion for contributing to your field, and they care about seeing you succeed. There are some steps you can take to make their job easier, though, and the bonus is that you’ll also see improvement in your own work!
- Read all of your instructor’s feedback. I know it’s tempting to just glance at the grade and then move along to your next task, but you might be missing out on some great advice. Many instructors embed resources, comments, and recommendations that will help you with your next paper, so be sure to take the time to read and use them. Nothing makes an instructor (or a writing tutor!) crazier than seeing the same errors from the same student, paper after paper. If you have trouble with the feedback tools themselves, see the MS Editing Tools section of this link for help. Bonus brownie points if you send a message to your instructor thanking him or her for the helpful advice.
- Communicate with your instructor. Are you confused about an assignment? Did you take my advice in # 1 but don’t quite understand what your instructor was saying? Try sending him or her a message. The Writing Center can also help, but most instructors are glad to provide clarification and will appreciate your interest in developing a full understanding of their wishes.
- Recognize that all instructors are different. One of the most common complaints we get from students is “This is the first instructor who’s ever said I need help with my writing!” It can be tough when a new instructor points out problems you didn’t realize you had, but try to keep your focus on the learning. Each new instructor brings you new insights and perspectives. When you encounter someone who challenges you to think harder or write more eloquently, embrace the growth you are about to experience. You might later remember him or her as one of your favorite instructors.
- Follow your instructor’s advice. Many faculty members go out of their way to identify support services for their students. They recommend an appointment with the Writing Center, a link to help on a confusing technical process, or a contact number for a librarian. I’ve seen many instructors disheartened by students who do not follow through on their advice, continuing instead to struggle with tasks that these supports could easily address. Even if you don’t think you need the help, I encourage you to take a deep breath and give it a try anyway. Even better, let your instructor know how it went.
Now here’s your challenge: Make a goal of following all four of these steps in your next course. You—and your instructor—will be glad you did.