Online instructors are a fantastic resource for students. They can answer questions about your coursework, offer helpful tips for how to succeed in class, provide feedback on your assignments and more. But it’s important to talk to your online instructors in a way that’s respectful of their time and skills.
Here are some tips for talking to your instructor so that you can build a helpful and respectful relationship.
Identify yourself, your class and the specifics of your question.
When you take online classes, you usually contact online instructors via email. In this communication, you should make sure to tell the instructor your name, as well as information about your class and the specific reason that you’re emailing.
Remember that your instructor is probably receiving many emails from students. Help them connect with you and your needs quickly by providing details upfront, so they don’t need to ask for clarification.
Give your instructor a chance to respond.
Your issue probably feels urgent to you, and that’s understandable. However, your instructor has many responsibilities, and they may also have emails ahead of yours that need answering. Allow them at least 24-48 hours to answer your communication.
Speak professionally and respectfully.
The last thing you want is to send a message like this:
“Hey, can u help me w/ this wk’s assignmt? is it super important?”
For one, you want to always spell out your words, check your grammar and avoid casual chat-speak. Secondly, never ask your instructor if an aspect of your course is “important.” If it’s being taught, it’s important! You should also address your instructor professionally, using a greeting and their name and preferred title. Try asking specifics, as well, like this:
“Good morning, Ms. Smith. Can you help me better understand the medical coding we worked on this week? I’m specifically having trouble with the ICD-10 codes related to broken bones. I’d love some tips on how to understand and memorize these codes.”
That’s professional, shows respect to your instructor and gives specifics about your needs.
Make sure your question isn’t answered in the syllabus or the online classroom.
A big pet peeve for instructors is when students ask questions that are answered in the materials for the class. Take it upon yourself to search through your resources before bringing a question to your professor.
This benefits them by not wasting their time, but it also benefits you—if you find the answer, you won’t need to wait for your instructor’s reply to move forward with your classwork!
These tips should help you contact your instructors in a respectful and effective way. Do you have any other advice you’d like to contribute? What have you learned from communicating with instructors?