general · me

How to Tame a Teacher; Manual of a Class Kiss-Ass

“I don’t know what you do to the teachers, but they love you” said my boyfriend today when I told him my grade for the oral presentation for my English Literature class. For a while, I laughed wickedly by myself, thinking “the world shall never know my secret!!” But then again, maybe I could share some general thoughts and advice on how to get good grades. A fine system it is indeed, and has worked for me for years now.

So, let us begin our guide on How to Tame a Teacher, or, more precisely, the Manual of a Class Kiss-Ass.
Notice that these notions may not all apply to specific situations as giving presentation or in a test (although some of them might), but are more of the sorts of getting your teachers drool over you ‘cos you’re just that awesome of a student.(As long as you don’t overdo it…)

  1. Pay attention. Or at least look like you’re paying attention. There is nothing as bad as looking bored in the class, because the teacher will think you really don’t care and/or do not understand (which may result in them actually explaining things AGAIN, making the lesson even more unbearable). If nothing else, follow the teacher with your hazy gaze, nod every now and again, and let your mind wonder. The one disadvantage is that they might ask you something you’re totally not prepared for.
  2. Always agree with your teacher. Even if you don’t. Or in case you don’t, and you absolutely cannot control yourself, but have a ‘life or death’ urge to express an opposing opinion, at least make sure you have a proper reason for it. Teacher’s don’t seem to appreciate if you contradict them just because.
  3. Laugh at their jokes. Even if it’s not funny. Even if you don’t get it. Even if you didn’t hear a word of it! When they laugh, you laugh. Or smile, that’s enough. But don’t roll your eyes or other stuff like that. They don’t like that. You wouldn’t either. Also, if you do this, it makes them think you’re paying attention, following the discussion, and understanding every word of it!
  4. The ‘exactly’ -method. No idea what the teacher is talking about (in class or in private meeting)? But they’re looking at you like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, or the most important thing in the class? Open your eyes wide (sort of ‘omg that’s so true I never thought of it like that’), nod strongly and say the magic word; Exactly!
  5. Write the extra essay. Come on, you know the other student’s aren’t gonna do sh*t! Just write SOMETHING, even if it’s total rubbish, and show the teacher how hard you’re truly working to get a good grade. Points for you, for being one of the 5 people in the class to hand it in.
  6. Smile to the teachers. When it’s your time to answer/read something/you see them in the hall/whatever, give them the ‘good girl/guy’ smile. You’ll see if it’s working when they start responding with the same smile.
  7. Sit in the front of the class. Two advantages. First, the teacher will remember your name and your face. If they don’t know who you are, why would they give you any pity points whatsoever? No, when they go ‘oh that one is always there, smiling, nodding, paying attention, maybe I should give them just a liiiiittle more in this or that point of evaluation’. Second, when you answer, you don’t need to be afraid you’ll blurt out something totally stupid for the whole class to hear, since you can speak in a lower voice, usually, so the teacher hears it first. Only if it’s something worth repeating again, they’ll tell you.
  8. Ask for the teacher’s help. If you don’t know what to do/what to write your essay on, ask them. They have some nice ideas sometimes, and it makes them see that you care about the work, and that you’re not interested in handing in anything less than perfect. They might even give you ideas they didn’t mention in the class, as a special treat for those who show interest. Sometimes, it can even be beneficial to ask them something, even if you know exactly what you want to do, just because. Just for the extra attention. And then, later, say ‘oh I was thinking about it a lot after I talked to you and came up with this idea!’
  9. If you have any extra knowledge, let them know. Even if it’s after class, in their office. ‘I read about this somewhere/saw this movie about the subject/visited this place’ makes them remember you better, and think you have some interest in the area of study (even if the movie sucked and you just partied the whole vacation).
  10. Let them know how hard you’ve worked. And exaggerate. Say you spent ‘a long time’, ‘ever since I got home’, that you worked on something ‘all night’ so you barely got any sleep at all. If in a tight spot, look like you’re about to start crying. Works everytime, if you’re not dealing with a gym teacher.
  11. Don’t get mad at the teacher. Doesn’t matter how they scream at you in front of people. Either try to state your opinion calmly, or bottle it up. Apologize, make up an excuse, exaggerate, whatever. You can *** that *** later, when hanging with your friends. The teacher is still above you in the classroom; they are the authority. You’d be in trouble if you talked back to your boss, too. The problem with teachers is that they can take it out of your grade.
  12. Offense is the best defense. Find out what your teacher is most interested in (whether it’s their area of expertise or their current topic of research, their favorite author or just a plain hobby), and use it when things get tough. Problems in presentation? Don’t worry, link it somehow to something else and the teacher will do the talking. Class getting intolerably boring? Talk about how this or that author expresses the idea! You’ll be flying high in the world of your thoughts for a good while. (note, I never actually tried this one myself, but I’ve witnessed it performed successfully on plenty of occasions) WARNING!! There is a chance that this backfires on you, big time. You may, accidentally, mention the teacher’s apparently-favorite-novel, sit through a 30 minute lecture on Catherine Earnshaw’s moral dilemmas, and miss your bus home.
  13. Talk to your teacher. Even just one of them. Everyone has bad times, the teachers understand that. (As long as you’re not a know-it-all smart-ass who talks back at them all the time.) If you’re having health problems that get in the way of your work, tell them. They will appreciate it, much more than you doing your whatever-it-may-be halfway only.

As a final remark, I would like to point out that these may not always work. Or they may always work, there is no telling. And the best thing you can do, still, is to actually study and do your homework. That’s what you’re there for, right? Think of it as your job. Or a second job. (I feel for you, bro..)

What works for you? Any additional ideas are also welcome!

A/N: This post was written with a sense of humor, and should be read with one, too. My intention is not to insult or offend anyone in anyway. In reality, I have great affection to many of my teachers, current and from the past, and enjoy attending my classes very much. Teachers for me are figures of great authority, people I look up to, people I wouldn’t mess with. The idea was to give actually good advice in a ‘funny’ format. Thank you.


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