Student-teacher relations rely on communication


Students have heard of this before. A student doesn’t know his or her grade and has no idea how they are doing in the class. Teachers change what they have scheduled on the syllabus. These situations are nothing new in college.

The issue, however, is that students and teachers do not always communicate with each other about grades and changes to the syllabus. Teachers must constantly make sure they are communicating with their students about syllabus changes and grades. Students must take the time to ask teachers about their grades and what is expected of them when they are uncertain as well.

Being up to date with grades helps students decide where to devote their study time. If a student has a B in one class and a C in another class, the student knows to spend more study time on the class with a C. If a student is constantly aware of his or her grade, the student can communicate with the teacher if there is a discrepancy with the grade the student received or inquire about extra credit opportunities.

The syllabus is an agreement between the teacher and his or her students. What is on the syllabus is what is expected of the student throughout the semester, and the teacher is expected to adhere to his or her own syllabus. If the teacher changes a task on the syllabus without communicating to the students, should the students still be held responsible for completing the task?

No, they should not. It is the responsibility of the teacher in this case to communicate with the students that there is a change to the syllabus.

Students should take the time to read the syllabus front to back. The teachers write the syllabi for the benefit of the students. Students are expected to know deadlines for homework. If a student does not hand in his or her homework on time, his or her grade suffers for it.

Some teachers do a fantastic job communicating and being reliable with their students, either by posting grades for students online via D2L, making sure they are handing back assignments to students as soon as they are graded or notifying students via email or in class about syllabus changes. There needs to be consistency between teachers on these issues.

Students cannot be expected to know their grade or what to do if the syllabus is changed without being told.

Students need to constantly take the time to inquire about grades or timelines if they are not sure. Communication is a two way street. All teachers post either a phone number or an email address in the syllabus, and all teachers have office hours when a student may speak to them in person. Students should capitalize on this to communicate with their teachers about any questions or concerns they have.

An example of such circumstances would be dismal weather, such as what Wisconsin had toward the beginning of the semester. If a teacher needs to cancel class due to the weather, they must notify the students and ensure the class is aware of any changes to the syllabus. If the teacher decides not to cancel class but some students are unable to make it to class, it is their responsibility to notify the teacher and ask them what is expected of them because they missed a class period.

Communication is key in school, just like any job or relationship. If one party is not communicating with the other about recent changes to either grades or the syllabus, then the students cannot expect to get the best grade possible. Students and teachers must be in constant communication over deadlines and grades throughout the semester.