Tips for Successful Communication with Your
have shown that one of the characteristics of successful students is
their ability to communicate effectively their learning needs to
their instructors. Yet very often, students wait until there
is a problem before communicating these needs. Once a problem
has occurred, communication becomes more difficult because feelings
of anger and frustration can block solving and cooperation. To
communicate successfully with your instructors, the following steps
1. Take responsibility to educate
your professors regarding your needs.
By letting the professor know early on in the semester about your
needs, you present yourself as a responsible student. This
appearance can go a long way to enhancing the learning environment
and creating a positive atmosphere when you need to speak with your
2. Find an appropriate time and
place to discuss your situation.
Make an appointment with your
Do not try to explain your needs
as the teacher is rushing to or from class.
Give the instructor time to meet
your request; do not expect immediate, last minute results.
If you cannot find a meeting
place, such as an office or the cafeteria, schedule a time to
talk on the phone without interruption.
3. Prepare for the meeting ahead
Identify what learning needs you
have, and how the instructor can help you meet those needs.
Be as specific as possible about
what accommodations you need.
This is the time to present your
letter of accommodation that you picked up from the Disability
This letter verifies that you need the specific accommodations
If you have difficulty explaining
what your needs are and why you need accommodations, please seek
assistance in understanding your disability and your strengths
and weaknesses and make an appointment with Patricia Richter,
Director of Services.
It is important to know yourself,
your disability, your strengths and weaknesses in order to be
able to discuss adequately your need for accommodations with
You may want to give examples of
what has worked in the past as a starting place for determining
what may work in this new class.
Be able to explain your
strategies for learning and how you plan to be actively involved
in the process.
4. During the meeting
Go to the meeting with a positive
attitude believing that the instructor is there to help you.
Take turns speaking and listening
In an effort to make sure that
you understand the other person, repeat back to him/her in your
own words, what you think s/he is saying. Ask if you are
correct. If not, listen again.
Let the professor get to know you
as a student by describing some of the study habits you
use. This also communicates that you are taking
responsibility for your own learning and not expecting the
instructor to do everything for you.
Look for creative
solutions. Telling an instructor what has worked in the
past for you should not imply that you expect the instructor to
act the same way. Rather, this information should be used
as a "spring board" or starting place to figure what
to do to meet your needs now.
If you have further concerns,
questions, or need more assistance, set up another
meeting. Try not to fall into the trap of familiarity and
think that because you have had one meeting that you do not need
to have another.
If you have followed the
suggestions for effective communication and you are not able to
work with your professor, please call the Disability Services
Office at 610-683-4108 and make an appointment with Patricia
Richter, Director of Services.
5. Follow up with the professor
throughout the entire semester.
Work together to find solutions
when there are problems.
Remember that your professor has
many students, and s/he must balance the needs of all students in
Learning is a continually
changing process. Do not be afraid to try new strategies
and to ask appropriate questions in class. Try to be
flexible and cooperative.
(Adapted from "Successful
Conflict Resolution with a School" by Edward Achziger, Jr.)