#2 : How Do You Keep Your Teachers Happy?

posted in: Journal Buddy 8
The humble chalkboard eraser/kitchen sponge. Image: Wikipedia.


This is the 2nd installment in a series of 51 posts inspired by a list of writing prompts from the website Journal Buddies. If you’d like to know more, here’s where I explain what this is and why I’m doing it.


Just show up to class.

After many years of being a student in university settings, workshops, various training courses, etc., I really do think that getting your butt in the seat, week after week, is a fail-safe way to successfully get through any kind of schooling. Strive for straight A’s if you like; aim high and still just get B’s; do the bare minimum and land C’s, even D’s — it’s all the same in the end, at least in terms of passing the course. Just remember: “If you come to class, you will pass.” (I’m pretty sure I just made that up.)

Can you get F’s on all your papers and tests and still pass if you show up to class? Maybe. But the added benefit of attending every single class session is that you’ll probably learn enough to not get F’s in the first place.

I think the good attendance of a student is critical for teachers for a few reasons. Keep in mind that I have done my fair share of teaching, but I’ve been a student way, way more, so my thoughts here are speculative.

For one thing, coming to class is a show of respect. A student enrolls in a class. The student takes up a seat in that class, which means someone else cannot have that seat. And the underlying assumption is that the student will attend the class, sit in the seat, listen to the instructor, and participate, whatever that might look like for that particular course.

When a student blows off class (for a reason other than being sick or having an emergency) it sends a message that you, the teacher, aren’t that important, and that the class isn’t worth going to. This isn’t explicit, it’s implied. If it happens a fair amount, the teacher understandably has less patience with the absentee student when she is struggling with a lesson or asks for an extension on a paper, for example.

The other reason being absent from class is the fastest way to lose favor with your teacher is a purely practical one, from your teacher’s standpoint: When you’re gone, she has to work more.

She has to answer an email from you going over what you missed. She has to reply to your email back to her with a question about what you missed — and of course lots of people had questions about the same thing, but she went over it … in class. You might ask for more time to finish a take-home test, say, which means she has to grade all the tests for the people who were in class and then, a week later, she has to return to the task she thought she could be done with (grading the take-home tests) but there you are, handing over your peanut-butter smeared take-home test — come on, you know it’s got peanut butter on it — and now she has to find the answer key and lord knows where that thing went.

If you want to make your teachers happy, go to class. You can come to class in your pajamas. Don’t you dare be on your phone — I can’t deal with people who do that in an educational setting — but texting with your sister in class is better than texting with your sister not in class. And, though I know this sounds crazy, you can even come to class without your homework. You just have to show up.

Any questions?



8 Responses

  1. Pam Martin
    | Reply

    As a former elementary school teacher and then college professor, I totally agree. I suppose it’s possible but I never had a student get an F in a class to which they showed up, participated, and turned in assignments.

  2. Rob Mac
    | Reply

    Glad to see you are back writing. It appears on an Instagram post that you got married. Congrats on that and maybe some day maybe let your long term readers know when that happened.

  3. Gabrielle
    | Reply

    Well said! There was a fellow student in my Chinese Philosophy and Religion class who rarely showed up. He asked another student if he could borrow his notes and the other student said he had missed a few classes too. Then he asked if he could borrow my notes, so I handed him my notebook before class, and he complained and complained and complained about I had taken too many notes! What?! So I reached around and grabbed my notebook back and told him to get his *** to class and take his own ******* notes!

  4. Nan
    | Reply

    Happy Dance! Mary’s back!

  5. Janie54
    | Reply

    Amen. This applies to work setting as well. If you have a job, show up for it. We’re not always all in but show respect for your fellow workers and boss; in school it’s respect for teachers and fellow students.
    You stated it magnificently, Mary—show up, please!

  6. Nancy Pederson
    | Reply

    Only one question… Can I go to the restroom?

    Just kidding Mary!

    I agree with you and some of your fans that it is important to “just be there” whether it’s work or school.

  7. Lucile Lapin
    | Reply

    If that is true that you are married….CONGRATULATIONS. Much better than those hospital stays. I wish you the very best of everything!

  8. Lindsey
    | Reply

    And if you miss a class NEVER ask the teacher ‘did I miss anything?’ You ask ‘what did I miss?’ Give the respect that is due.

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