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Getting Along With Teachers

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The Benefits of Getting Along

Sure, it's good to get along with your teacher because it makes that time you spend in the classroom more pleasant.

And yes, it's good to get along with your teacher because, in general, it's smart to learn how to relate to the different types of people you'll meet throughout your life.

But really, there's one super-important reason why you should get along with your teacher. Kids who get along with their teachers not only learn more, but they're more comfortable asking questions and getting extra help. This makes it easier to understand new material and do your best on tests.

When you have this kind of relationship with a teacher, he or she can be someone to turn to with problems, such as problems with learning or school issues, such as bullying.

As a kid in elementary or middle school, you're at a wonderful stage in your life. You're like a sponge, able to soak up lots of new and exciting information. On top of that, you're able to think about all this information in new ways.

Your teacher knows that, and in most cases, is thrilled to be the person who's giving you all that material and helping you put it together. Remember, teachers are people, too, and they feel great if you're open to what they're teaching you. That's why they wanted to be teachers in the first place — to teach!

Some kids may be able to learn in any setting, whether they like the teacher or not. But most kids are sensitive to the way they get along with the teacher, and if things aren't going well, they won't learn as well and won't enjoy being in class.

What Does "Getting Along" Mean?

"Getting along" means you and your teacher have a way of communicating that works for both of you and you both are getting what you need from the relationship. From your teacher's perspective, he or she wants to make sure you are paying attention, being respectful and polite, and trying your best to learn.

From your perspective, you want a teacher who is respectful to you, answers your questions, and tries to help you learn. You can get along and learn without being pals with your teacher, although it's nice if that happens.

In every school, kids will say certain teachers are mean or tough, but don't judge a teacher until you are in his or her class and can see for yourself. In the majority of cases, your teacher is on your side. And a teacher who's called tough may be someone who feels strongly about getting his or her job done — teaching you the subject you are supposed to learn.

It's also important to remember that making mistakes is a part of learning. By pointing out your errors and helping you correct them, a teacher is teaching you.

What If We Don't Get Along?

Teachers want to get along with you and enjoy seeing you learn. But teachers and students sometimes have personality clashes, which can happen between any two people.

If you show your teacher that you want to make the situation better, he or she will probably do everything possible to make that happen. By handling a problem like this, you learn something about how to get along with people who are different from you.

Take these steps if the problem seems tough to solve:

  1. Talk to an adult you trust, such as a parent, guidance counselor, or both.
  2. Give it time. You may not feel immediately comfortable with your teacher, but that may change as you get to know one another.
  3. If you've given it time, talk with your parents about what to do next. Lots of times, a meeting can be set up to discuss the problem. This may clear the air and make things better. Everyone's goal should be to create trust and kindness.

Your relationship with a teacher is often your first chance to develop a "business relationship." Just like your parents have business relationships with the people they work with or the people who deliver the mail to your house, kids also can have these kinds of relationships. They are different from your family relationships and friendships, which are built on affection and love.

In a business relationship, both parties get something out of the relationship, but don't necessarily need to be good friends or like each other a lot. They simply need to respect one another, be polite, and stay focused on the job at hand. In other words, they need to "get down to business."

When you act this way, and remember that you're not the only kid in the class, you are helping your teacher. Your teacher is likely to notice this and appreciate it.

Teachers also like it when students follow directions and when they learn and obey the rules of the classroom. For instance, there may be rules about listening when another student is talking, or about taking turns, or about raising your hand when you want to say something or ask a question.

What Are a Student's Responsibilities?

Even if a certain teacher isn't your favorite, you can still have a successful relationship, especially if you fulfill your basic responsibilities as a student.

Here are some of those responsibilities:

  • Attend class ready to learn.
  • Be prepared for class with the right pencils, books, and completed assignments.
  • Listen when your teacher is talking.
  • Do your best, whether it's a classroom assignment, homework, or a test.

We've talked about some of the difficult situations that come up with teachers. Now, let's talk about the good stuff.

Some teachers make such an impact that their students never forget them. Some former students may even go back to visit the teacher long after moving on to a higher grade or another school. Maybe you've seen these older students visit a teacher at your school. That's a real compliment to the teacher — that he or she was so special the student wants to keep in touch.

And there's an even higher compliment you can give a favorite teacher: Grow up to become a favorite teacher yourself!

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2010

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

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