Becoming the Teachers Pet: A Practical Guide to get Professors to Love You

In the winter of grade 5, I spent the majority of my recesses helping my teacher organize her classroom. I did this for two reasons: 1. I wanted to stay inside when it was super cold out but I was too much of a goody two shoes to hide out in the bathroom stalls with the cool girls, and 2. Because I genuinely liked my teacher and I wanted to help her out.

While I was having a blast arranging math textbooks, I was also building up quite a reputation with the other 10 year olds, who didn’t love the fact this teacher was now recommending me for a leadership position within the school.

One day, while I was strategically putting together my lunchable pizzas (there is a strict sauce to cheese ratio that must be followed), this boy came right up to me and said “You know the reason why you have no friends is because you are such a teacher’s pet”

 

I was mortified.

 

“I’m not a teacher’s pet!” I thought, “I just get along with adults, that’s not my fault.”

But from that day on, I no longer stayed in to help my teacher during recess, in fear that people might think that my success was solely based on the fact that I knew how that teacher liked her scissors organized.

Fast forward a few years, and I have to admit that I couldn’t shake the habit. I’m still a teacher’s pet, except now I wear that title with pride.

The fact of the matter is, being in the good books with the person who is in charge of your grades is never a bad thing. While I do not encourage kissing up in anyway shape or form, I believe there are a few habits that you can adopt to help make sure that you are the student profs want to have in their class. (No guarantee, but this is a good path towards becoming on students with the highest marks.)

 

  1. Go to class

This is pretty self-explanatory but your professor can’t love you if they don’t know who you are. What’s great about a Glendon classroom with an average of 26 students, your professors actually do want to take the time to get to know you personally. They can also tell when you don’t show up and they will ask questions (they want to make sure you’re okay –it comes with the close knit community territory). If you do miss a class however, it is your responsibility to pick up the notes from a classmate. DO NOT under any circumstances ask the prof “What did we do last week?” Best-case scenario: they will simply just walk away.

 

  1. Arrive on time

Another obvious one yet still super important. Every prof has their own late policy, but even those who seem chill don’t love the fact that you are interrupting their class by strutting in halfway through their carefully planned PowerPoint presentation. Showing up on time, ready to work, is a simple sign of respect. Now on those days where you do end up running late – whether it be due to sleeping in or TTC troubles, make sure that you hustle your booty to class as quickly as possible and try to be as discrete as possible. (Also if you walk in late to a lecture with Tims in hand, be prepared to either provide Timbits for the class or receive dirty looks by all.)

 

  1. Participate and ask questions

Believe it or not, your profs are human! This is shocking I know; however a PhD doesn’t strip people from their basic human emotions (or at least not entirely). Professors spend a lot of time on their lecture materials and so they just want their work to be appreciated. By participating and asking questions, you are proving that you are engaged and care about what you are learning (this is an extra important step when you really don’t care what you are learning. I hated 19th century French poetry, but do you think my Prof who would recite Baudelaire from memory knew that – heck no!). Take that extra little step to join in on a conversation and prove that you have learned something. It will make you look good and make your professor feel accomplished (win-win!)

 

  1. Use office hours effectively

Okay I will admit I am still not the best at this, however visiting professors during their office hours is a sure fire way to get on their good side (I’ve heard they get kinda lonely sitting there with their door open waiting for someone to come in). Remember, it is their job to help you so do not be afraid to ask for clarification. Again, it proves that you are the kind of student who takes their work seriously and wants to ensure they’ve understood. (There are also some professors who will look at your papers before you submit them and give you feedback, I’ve gotten an A every time I’ve done this).

 

  1. Call them by Prof. Fill in The Blank unless otherwise specified

They worked hard for that PhD. Don’t strip them of it!

  1. Use the utmost caution when emailing

Honestly, online communication is one biggest downfall for students (I blame the fact the most professors can’t speak meme). Treat your emails the same way you would treat an essay: make sure that it is clear, concise, and free of typos. Also remember that most professors prefer to discuss things in person, so unless it is a relatively quick question (or an appointment request) I would try to visit them during office hours instead.

Please remember that it is NEVER appropriate to ask a professor for clarification on an assignment when you are less than 24h from the due date (especially if it is after 8pm). Most professors are nice but it is not their job to save you from your procrastinating Red-Bull induced all-nighter self.

Attention : Pour ceux et celles qui suivent des cours en français, il faut ABSOLUTMENT écrire tous vos courriels en français (parfois, ça fait partie de votre note de participation).

 

  1. Read the syllabus/assignment sheet

Again, most profs are nice and will remind you when assignments are due, but they are not going to hold your hand throughout the whole process. What this means is that you need to take the initiative to read your syllabus or assignment outlines cover to cover to ensure you really understand what they are asking for. If you need some clarification, by all means ask! Profs want to make sure their instructions are clear, but asking “what are we supposed to do?” or “when is that due?” is a no go.

 

  1. Thank them at the end of lecture

You can never go wrong with a thank you.

 

Take it from a veteran, becoming the teacher’s pet is an almost sure fire way to get yourself a better grade, not because you are kissing up or grade grubbing, but because by following these tips, you, in turn, become a better student.

Coming into University I was petrified that professors were going to be these big, scary, heartless, academics. It turns out that they are kind, compassionate, smart people who will (often) do everything in their power to see you succeed. You just have to meet them half way with a super strong work ethic and some basic common courtesy.

So keep calm and study on mes amis, and don’t let anyone get in your lunchable loving way.

À la prochaine,

Rebecca

Twitter: @RebeccaKGL

Instagram: @RebeccaKazdan

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