Whether it’s a college classroom, a certification boot camp or an employer’s training session, chances are that in the not-too-distant future, you’ll find yourself in a situation in which you’re a student. And when you do, you should take advantage of those circumstances and do what so many other learners neglect to do: Get to know your teacher.
Some of you might wonder why you need to talk to instructors. Isn’t it enough that you’re showing up for and paying attention to lectures? Well, sure, if all you want to do is pass the class.
But if you want to acquire deeper knowledge of the course content, get a bona fide explanation of the inner workings of your industry or gain a connection for future employment opportunities, then you should try to become acquainted with your professors, trainers, etc.
First of all, if there’s something in the class that you just don’t get, your teachers can help you grasp it through further elaboration right after class, during office hours or even (and I know this from firsthand experience) at a local tavern.
These one-on-one settings allow you to frame the discussion in terms you understand rather than passively receive information in ways that might be confusing as presented. In this way, you can clarity certain points, as well as get deeper knowledge fellow learners might not receive.
Further, many of your instructors will be able to give you a realistic look at the industry. After all, many of them worked in the field before they became educators and still stay in touch with several individuals who are still out there. Thus, they’ll be able to tell you about the practical application of concepts on the job, as well as topics outside of technology such as typical workloads, schedules, colleagues and corporate environments.
Finally, they can connect you to potential employers, notify you about important industry conferences and workshops you might not have known about otherwise or serve as a sterling reference for jobs you pursue.
Also, by adding instructors to your professional network, you’ll have a resource you can go back to time and again whenever you encounter difficult work-related problems.
Obviously, the benefits of establishing relationships with your teachers are numerous. So how do you build up that bond?
First, you always should start out respectfully. Initially, you ought to address them with a formal salutation (Mr., Ms., Dr.), followed by their last name. Additionally, be polite and speak reservedly. At the same time, though, be personable — you shouldn’t come across as taciturn.
For icebreakers, you might ask instructors to follow up on a point they made in their lecture or compliment them on their teaching style (but only if you genuinely appreciate it). From there, you might ask them about their own experiences with the subject matter. Of course, the conversations will become less formal and work-focused over time, but these are good “beginning” approaches.
Most important, you should remember that teachers are merely human. They might seem intimidating or aloof because of their position in relation to you, but they’re just regular people, doing their jobs. Keep that in mind as you attempt to relate to them.