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College Success Tip # 49 - Teacher Conference

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3

At one point or time in one’s higher education journey students will need to converse with their instructor. For some students the thought of conversing with their teacher is overwhelming and nerve wrecking, for others it’s not that big of a deal.

No matter your thoughts when the time comes for you to converse with your instructor or an academic authority, this is a serious deal not to be taken lightly. I don't say this to scare anyone, but your interaction with your instructor will either cause progression or a regression in your academic journey.

Students oftentimes converse with instructors when they have questions, concerns or complaints. Students additionally converse with instructors during a face-to-face traditional classroom settings, and even online via email and/or learning management systems/platforms.

Hopefully no one has to go through an issue as it relates to violation of academic policies or academic probation but I want to provide Higher Education students my top 7 tips when one has to converse with a Teacher, Department Chair or Dean regarding a serious issue from disciplinary issues, academic probation, teacher/classroom conflict, personal issues, etc.

The 7 (Seven) Tips are as follows:

Come Prepared – Why are you in a meeting with your Professor, Department chair or dean? What brought you to this point? Is the upcoming meeting positive or negative? If you believe you are in a situation where it may be negative situation, watch your actions and check your attitude. You have the right to be upset but be mindful that your emotions should not dictate and control the conference. If you are coming to a teacher conference due to questions on a homework assignment or upcoming project bring those materials with you as a reference point for the instructor. If you are coming in regarding your grades, bring in the graded work you do have to dispute any issues that are red flags in your mind.

Focus on the Issue at Hand – When meeting with professors or academic administrators be sure to focus on the issue. Don’t go around or skirt around issues, focus on why you were asked to come in, or the reason you requested the conference.

Neutralize your tone – Emotions are fickle and emotions are sometimes short lived. Sometimes when individuals respond from emotion their voices, conversation and body language reflect their feelings. Don’t allow emotions to dictate and rule your conversation.

Listen – Take a moment to listen to your instructor, academic administrator or professor. Allow them to finish expressing their questions, concerns and complaints before jumping in. Even if the meeting is not going the direction you like, take time to listen so that you will have a better handle on how to respond.

Be Direct – Don’t dance around issues, don't feel like you are stepping on egg shells during conferences. Exhibit and show respect but be direct as it relates to your questions, concerns or complaints.

Get an Understanding – Before responding get an understanding. Misunderstandings are some of the primary reasons individuals have communication issues. Get an understanding from your professor or the academic administrator. Also respectfully ask if they understand you.

Take Action – Now that you’ve met with your professor or the academic administrator on campus, take heed to the steps that will aim you towards your academic targets. If your professor met with you regarding your grades and improvement, Take action to make the necessary adjustments for improvement. If your academic administrator met with you on academic dishonesty and the consequences that follow, take action to turn away from academic dishonesty or endure the consequences.

Peace & God Bless,

Aiming Towards the Target,

Dr. Bryant

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