It's that time of the semester when you may need to talk to your professor or TA. Perhaps it's to discuss something you don't understand, or to ask about an exam, or just to let them know you need some help. It can be difficult to know how to approach them. Here are some ideas:
- Know what your goal is in concrete, specific terms. (Examples: a grade change, requesting help on a paper, etc.)
- Be as specific as possible and have examples in mind. (Example: "In your last lecture, I had trouble following the main idea when you talked about nuclear physics.")
- Bring relevant materials along (book, notes, test) to show you've done your homework.
- Foresee - and prepare for - the probable response. Put yourself in the instructor's shoes.
- Use "I" messages rather than labeling or making accusations. (Example: "I'm having trouble following the lectures. Do you have any suggestions?" rather than "You talk too fast." This shows a productive, problem-solving approach.)
- Don't talk immediately before or after class in the classroom if your issue is in-depth and complex. Leave simple questions for before/after class time.
- Demonstrate an attitude of wanting to learn.
The most important thing is to make sure you talk to them. Most professors are very willing to work with you. But they can't help if you don't let them know there's a problem.