Keep Your Teachers Happy

Barry the Study Dog stays out of the academic hoosegow by keeping his teachers happy all year, not just right before final grades come out.

Study Skills Series: The first Monday of every month, we give timely, practical, and original study skills advice. Timely means it’s especially useful during that month of the school year. Practical means it’s easy to act on. Original means we wrote it ourselves and you can only get it here.

T he first rule of school is, “Keep your teachers happy!” With an exclamation point.

And the best time to follow that rule is now. The handful of weeks left in the school year is just enough time to show your teachers you appreciate them, improve your study skills, and prepare yourself for future success.

Show up to every remaining hour of every class with the best question and most interesting comment you can think of, based on your 2-minute googling of the next day’s topics. You’ll be more interested in the material, so you’ll enjoy it more and make your own connections to it, which will help you learn it, but you’ll also help your teacher by being a reliably enthusiastic contributor to class discussions.

Remember that grades are stupid and teachers hate grading. Never mention grades. Instead, when you meet with your teachers about your course progress or big assignments, ask, “What can I do to improve?” Start by thanking them for making time to meet with you, and end by thanking them for helping you improve. Teaching is a brutal, thankless job. When you ask your teachers for specific feedback on how to improve, incorporate their suggestions, and thank them for their help, you’re doing them a favor while getting smarter.

If you really want your teacher to know you’ve enjoyed their efforts to inspire you to work hard to learn the material, ace the final. What could be a more convincing show of respect than mastering the concepts your teacher dedicated their life to teaching you?

The best part about honoring the heretofore unperceived emotional needs of your teachers is that it will lead to your actually learning the material, rather than just getting an A in the class. This’ll come in handy next year – particularly in math – and in life, when you’ll have to pay rent with the skills you learned in school.

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