A key part of your college success is knowing your instructors. Developing good relationships with your instructors involves good communication in and outside of the classroom. Instructors are available to meet and talk with you, but you must know how to connect with them during their available times.
It’s part of an instructor’s job to help and talk to learners outside of the classroom. Most successful learners take advantage of an instructor’s office hours. You can visit instructors during office hours and discuss any problems or concerns that you have in their course.
To build your relationship with your instructor in-class, consider ways that you can show your interest in the course material. Some ways to do this are:
- Listen actively during class to determine what’s most important to the instructor.
- Read your textbook before class and prepare questions to ask.
- Let your instructor know what interests you about the course.
Communicating in Office Hours
Instructors have office hours outside of class. Whenever possible, try to meet your instructor during these times. You can use office hours to ask questions about the course material, to get clarification about the requirements for an assignment, or to learn more about a topic from the class that you find particularly interesting.
Some tips for using office hours effectively:
- Arrive on time to be respectful of your instructor’s and other students’ time.
- Come prepared by bringing your textbook and other course materials.
- Prepare questions ahead of time.
- Summarize key points to make sure you understand.
Communicating By Email
Instructors receive many e-mails from students. To write an effective e-mail, consider the following:
- When possible, use your college e-mail account.
- In the subject line, write the course name and topic of your email (e.g. BIOL 1100 Lab Report 2).
- Use a professional greeting in the e-mail (“Dear” rather than “Hey!”).
- Write your question or concern in short, clear sentences.
- End your e-mail with an appropriate conclusion (e.g. “Thank you in advance for your help”, or “Thank you for your time and consideration”).
- Allow time for your instructor to respond – don’t expect an instant reply.
To: Instructor Name
Subject: Communications 1001 Research proposal
Hello [insert name],
This is John Smith from your Communications 1001 class. I have a question about our research proposal assignment that is due October 6th. How many sources are we required to include in our proposal?
Thanks in advance for your help.
By showing interest, communicating with your instructor throughout the course, and using e-mail effectively, you’ll build a good relationship with your instructor that will support your communication and learning. 
If you’ve already reviewed your course outline, you’ll know when and where you can contact your instructor during office hours. Plan to contact your instructor this week. If you don’t yet have a question to ask, consider having a brief conversation about one of the following topics:
- What is one thing I can do to be successful in this course?
- How will the concepts taught in this class connect with other courses in the program?
- What can I do to improve my class participation/writing/presentation skills?
- Study Guides and Strategies. (n.d.). Influencing teachers and improving classroom communication skills. http://www.studygs.net/attmot2.html ↵