An Introvert’s Guide to Connecting with Teachers
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Sophie Alina in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
When you are a student who is shy and struggles to speak up and participate in class, it can be difficult to build strong relationships with your teachers. Introverted students may find it challenging to reach out when they have questions, establish a friendly rapport, or have one-on-one conversations with their teachers. Nonetheless, one of the most rewarding aspects of being in school is the opportunity to connect with others—especially your teachers—through the process of learning. Your teachers have a wealth of knowledge and lived experience to share, and they are worth getting to know well. Here are a few tips for how students, especially those who are more introverted, can form strong relationships with teachers.
Advocate for Yourself
You are responsible for learning what you need to learn, and teachers are impressed by and able to help students better who advocate for themselves. Thus, to forge strong relationships with teachers and be the best student you can be, you need to learn how to advocate for yourself. To advocate for yourself is to understand what you need, communicate your needs, and ask for support, even if doing so requires you to put yourself in an uncomfortable position.
What does this look like in practice? Well, when you are struggling to grasp a difficult concept, you need to be resourceful and try to solve the problem on your own, and then you should ask your teacher for guidance. If you are struggling to pass a class, you need to approach your teacher and work together on figuring out better study strategies and extra assignments or projects you can work on so that you can understand the material better.
Participate and Communicate
The classroom setting can be overwhelming, especially for introverted students. It can be hard to participate in a class discussion when you lack confidence in your ideas or feel nervous to speak in front of others. Regardless, participation and communication in group settings are necessary life skills. First, strong relationships with teachers begin in the classroom, and teachers appreciate students who are engaged and participating actively. In college, your grades may be determined in part by how much and how well you participate in class. Beyond college, the world favors those who participate, raise their hand, and voice their opinions.
The best way to participate and communicate your ideas is to prepare in advance. If you come prepared, you are more likely to feel confident in what you have to say, and you are more likely to raise your hand and share your ideas. For example, if you are reading “Franny and Zooey: in your English class, make doubly sure that you do the reading before class, and take some extra time to write your observations and opinions down in a notebook that you bring to class the next day. When your class discusses the assigned reading, participate early so you can set the course of the discussion by sharing some of the ideas you wrote down.
Find the Right Moments
Relationships with your teachers begin in the classroom, but they flourish in the moments before and after class, during breaks, at lunchtime, and before and after school. If you want to strengthen your relationship with a teacher, figure out what time of day is best for them and make an effort to meet with them regularly. For example, maybe your AP Calculus teacher uses the mornings before school to prepare for their classes and finish grading assignments, but they might enjoy talking with students during their lunch break. With this in mind, you should make an effort to visit them once or twice a week during lunch, ask any outstanding questions you have about assignments or upcoming tests, and discuss their academic background, family, outside interests, or anything else appropriate to talk about.
Get To Know Each Other
To build strong relationships with your teachers, you need to recognize they are not just adults who are paid to teach you—they are actual people with families, hobbies, goals, dreams, and feelings. Each teacher will determine how little or how much they are willing to share, but with as much respect and tact as you can, you should make a point of asking teachers about themselves and their backgrounds. Here are some examples of questions you could ask:
- How is your day/week going so far?
- How did you become interested in teaching this subject?
- What was your college experience like?
- What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Similarly, you need to let teachers get to know you as a complete person and not just their student. Don’t talk to your teachers only about the next homework assignment or test. Discuss what you are learning that genuinely interests you, your other classes, and what you like to do outside of class. Then, take the conversation one level deeper by talking about what you want to do after high school, what questions you have about college, and what your aspirations are.
For more information, read our article on how to build strong relationships with your high school teachers.