How To Get a Teacher To Like You

I’m guessing that every teenager would like to have a math teacher like 27 year old X-Factor contestant Stephanie Totino. Her cool, relatable and inspiring vibe is a far cry from the grumpy old maths teachers I remember in high school. 

Young people are occasionally faced with the challenge of connecting with a teacher who is grumpy, boring and intolerant of teenager behaviour.  The big question is how do we encourage a young person to respect a teacher who not only doesn’t inspire them, but annoys, confuses or frustrates them?

What usually happens is a game of tug-a-war.  The teacher is wanting to pull one way and our children are wanting to pull another.  They have different agendas and priorities. Tensions, personality clashes and frustrations begin. Playing tug-a-war with a teacher for any of these reasons will usually end badly.

We all know that showing respect to teachers enables them to do their job. I actually teachers don’t get enough credit for their skills in this day and age.  Respect (and disrespect) are attitudes that young people convey in many ways including tone, body language and the selection of your words. 

This stuff is not so basic for emotionally fuelled young people.  They need it broken down so they can visualise what respectful behaviour looks like.  Here is a checklist I use with young people to assess how well they are respecting a teacher. I usually get them to give each point a rating out of 10, which ends up in a score out of 100. You can then turn that score into a percentage.

Even if young people can make an effort in one of these areas (JUST ONE), teachers usually notice. In most cases they also make an increased effort.  If you have a child who is struggling to relate to a teacher, ask them to pick one of these suggestions and see if it makes any difference over the next month.

  • Admit that your relationship with them matters and ditch the “who cares” attitude.  Remind yourself that a poor relationship with a teacher impacts your marks and your general happiness.  Improving a relationship with a teacher is worth the effort.

  • Enter the classroom positively. Acknowledge the teacher by smiling or saying hello as you walk in the room. You aren’t showing weakness or admitting defeat by treating a teacher like a normal human being.

  • Choose where you sit carefully. If you know you get distracted up the back sit up the front. Where you sit conveys your interest in what the teacher has to say. Changing where you sit tells the teacher you are serious about improving your relationship with them.

  • Show respect towards others in your class.  Don’t put down or disrupt other students.  This makes your teacher’s job much more difficult. Stop talking. Be quiet. Listen. Don’t show off and draw attention to yourself.

  • Hand in homework and assignments on time.  Be honest if you haven’t done homework or you fail.  Don’t lie or make excuses. 

  • If you do get in trouble, apologise. Complete your detention without making it a bigger deal than it needs to be or causing more trouble. Start afresh the next day. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

  • Contribute in the right way.  Ask questions in class. This can be really hard if you don’t like to admit you need your teacher.  Try and ask one question every lesson.

  • Ask for help outside of class. If you go out of your way to access your teacher before or after class to ask further questions about assignments or work you didn’t understand, it will show you are making an effort.  There are times when a teacher might be resistant to giving you extra help because of the way you have treated them. Don’t stop asking. Within a week or two they should understand you are serious about changing.

  • Tell them you are trying.  You have to make it really obvious to teachers that you are trying and making an effort. There are times when it is important to state that the reason you are handing in assignments, or sitting away from friends, is because you want to improve your behaviour. Communicate your intention whenever you can.

  • No one is perfect so don’t expect teachers to be. Some teachers will be more difficult to communicate with than others. If you feel like your teacher doesn’t understand you or is unfair, remember that it will get better if you make an effort, and worse if you don’t.

 PS. Thank you for sharing. You never know the difference you could make to someone else’s life.


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