How to communicate effectively with lecturers
In most universities, communication between students and lecturers is always encouraged. After all, this can enable you to learn something new outside the scope of your classroom, gather valuable tips, receive advice, and find practical ways to handle (if any) education problems. However, even though all students have been informed time and again that they can communicate with their lecturers, few of them actually have the confidence to do so. This may seem understandable; for the fresh students in particular, but can hamper effective student/lecturer communications in the long run.
Many students fail to fully understand that the role of their lecturers extends farther than the classroom and these students end up underutilizing opportunities to expand their knowledge base and develop healthy relationships with their lecturers due to their inability or reluctance to reach out and communicate effectively.
Which is why, in this article, we have listed out eight tips in no particular order, to enable you to communicate better and more efficiently with your lecturer. If you can relate with Aisha’s situation, this is for you. Let’s go!
Recall their favorite communications channel
When a course starts, the lecturer generally describes how they choose to communicate with the students precisely. Some like to do so via email, for instance, while others seldom check their mail, and may prefer talking. Also, if the lecturer prefers an offline meeting, they generally indicate hours they would be available.
It can help you a great deal to remember these preferences. You will, for instance, understand that instead of sending them an email, you may need to speak with your professor in person.
Personally, I have been in countless situations where I need to get some information from one lecturer or the other on an issue I am facing or a particularly difficult topic I am finding extra hard to understand, and I have found out that realizing every lecturer is unique when it comes to communicating and understanding their individually unique ways of communicating is key to developing a successful student/lecturer relationship.
Schedule an appointment with your lecturer
After a lesson, you might want to talk to your lecturer about a tricky terminology or even seek explanation for something you didn’t catch earlier _but chances are they may not be available to listen to you. Many students often make this mistake and even though a few are successful in their inquiries, they may not get full, in depth answers from their lecturers. Instead of trying to grill your lecturers after a lecture, politely approach them and schedule an appointment in advance for a time when the lecturer will be less busy and you don’t have any other lectures to attend. This will guarantee that the lecturer is available during that time for a proper conversation.
Also, from my experience, almost everybody else wants to talk to a lecturer immediately a lecture is done. This makes it difficult for a lecturer to focus on your inquiry. Scheduling a later appointment is the best way to go about it. Also, ensure you are always on right on schedule with your lecturers. Avoid tardiness.
Introduce yourself properly
Some lecturers have lots of students, some less. Some of them memorize their student’s names and faces, and some don’t. You shouldn’t expect the lecturer to know who you are. It is important to introduce yourself when you arrive to see them by telling them your name and the course you are taking. It’s all about courteousness and setting the proper tone for future discussions.
I once had a lecturer that always asked for my name every time I went to see him. At first I was offended. Later I learnt he lectured at three different universities and taught almost a thousand students! It was unrealistic to expect him to know every student by name.
Be ready for a small talk
This is a challenging aspect and one that most students dread _in most cases, the lecturer will expect you to get to the point immediately. However, some of them would prefer to have a small chat with you first _rather than freak out, get yourself prepared for it. Many lecturers choose to teach because they like students and like to talk with them _so try to be open, relaxed and make small talk if the lecturer initiates it.
My favorite lecturer in university supported a soccer team that were rivals to the team I supported. I found this out during a friendly chat in his office; I had gone there to inquire about my research paper topic. This small bit of information created a bond between myself and my lecturer and made effective communication easier.
Outline the purpose of your visit⠀
You don’t know the amount of time your lecturer can spend talking to you, so you have to do everything in your power to save them time. Consider in advance the reason for your visit. Describe it clearly to the lecturer after the small talk is over (or, if there is no small talk, immediately). This also enables your lecturers to know what to expect from you and the length of your meeting with them. Getting to know your lecturer is one thing, asking for their advice concerning your academics is another thing _and you should always have that in mind.
From my experience, Lecturers appreciate it when you are clear and precise about what exactly you want from them.
Make sure you have all that you need when going to see your lecturer
If you want assistance or suggestions that might require going through data (for instance, your essay on cause and impact, project, training, grades, etc.), it is always helpful to have these documents with you. The lecturer might not, after all, have sufficient time to dig through their storage units for your record. Or they want to be helpful and start digging through their mountains of paperwork, but that still means you’re going to have to wait.
Properly arrange any necessary paperwork and documentation you need assistance with before you meet with your lecturer. Trust me, you don’t want to start arranging your files in your lecturer’s office, it gives them an unflattering image of your person.
Always remember that the lecturer is human too
This may sound obvious and cliché, but a lot of students tend to forget this. This hinders them first of all, from speaking to their lecturers _and also prevents them from discussing personal and academic issues with their lecturers who could probably proffer practical solutions to their problems.
Although some factors such as; stress, the burden of work, illness of your relatives and the latest divorce of your parents are not linked to your studies, they can still have a ton of impact on your academic performance. Of course, that does not imply that you have to inform your lecturer in detail about every happenings in your life, but it’s considered generally acceptable to tell them about such stuff _especially if these factors impact your grades and can cause you to fall behind. Don’t worry, your teachers are also human being; some with children of their own, and can comprehend, understand and counsel you through whatever it is that you are going through.
Open up early
The sad truth is this: most students come to their lecturers only when it is too late to do anything about their problems. They wait until the last moment to open up and by that time, nothing concrete can be done to remedy their situations.
Although most lecturers want to help the students, it is sometimes not feasible. So if you keep on avoiding that crucial talk with your lecturer, you should get yourself ready to be disappointed in the long run.
However, don’t allow yourself to be discouraged. In many cases, you can still get help from your lecturer, and get to know them more in the process. All you need to do is take that first step and make an effort. Don’t forget these tips and try to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Hopefully, it’s going to turn out all right!