How to connect with teachers


Illustration by Valentin Nguyen

Lowell is filled to the brim with amazing teachers, but reaching out to them can be intimidating. However, doing so can have long-term benefits, and most teachers are delighted when students connect with them outside of class. Not many students take advantage of the resources our teachers provide, but doing so is definitely worthwhile in the long run.

Here are some tips on how to reach out.

Getting Help

Everyone has that one class (or more) where the course material is especially challenging. But even if you’re seriously struggling, help is out there. Asking your teacher for guidance can be the difference between a passing grade and a failing one.

Before you approach your teacher, figure out what aspect of the course is giving you the most trouble. Is there one concept in particular that you aren’t understanding? Is the class moving too quickly? Do you just need more practice? Once you’ve identified what is causing you trouble, it’s easier to ask for help.

Be respectful of your teacher’s time: don’t expect them to spend all of their off block helping you. But many teachers are willing to provide some assistance, be that going over essays before they are due, providing outside resources for studying, or connecting you with a tutor. Remember: teachers want to see you do well.

Asking for Advice

Teachers can help you make decisions about your future. If you’re not sure what path you want to take, be that college-wise or career-wise, teachers have valuable insights into how to approach the next steps in your life. After all, they’ve already lived through the same experiences you’ve yet to go through.

Teachers can also give less life-changing advice`. Are you a big reader? Ask if they have any book recommendations. (Some of the best books I’ve read have been recommended by teachers.) Often even science or history teachers will have great books they think everyone should read.

Saying Thank You

Teaching is an incredibly difficult job. A great teacher can inspire you to learn more; an excellent teacher can change the course of your life and open up pathways you didn’t even know existed. (In freshman year, my biology teacher inspired me so much I decided right then and there to major in biology. I wrote him a thank you letter, and he said that my note was worth more than the salary he gets paid.) When you run into a truly incredible teacher, one who goes above and beyond, it’s important to show gratitude. Write them a thank you note. Give them a gift card. Say something to let them know how much their class has affected you. You won’t regret it.