Communicating with your instructors, tas, and classmates

Part of creating a beneficial learning environment for yourself includes finding ways to engage with the material, your classmates, and instructor. Who knows, communication with your instructors, TAs, and classmates might be central to you getting that A!

Below are some tips for setting up respectful and effective lines of communication with the people in your environment to create a positive learning community.

Office hours and checking in with your instructor and TA

It’s important for you to go to office hours whether they are held online or in-person. Office hours are there for you, so you can talk to the professor, or ask one of the many questions you have about the course or assignments. Your professor and TAs want to talk to you — it’s why they chose a profession in teaching!

Quick tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Others may have similar questions and concerns. You are not in this alone.

  • Be on the lookout for announcements from your professor or TA and check your email frequently.

  • If communicating online, try to be patient if you don’t get a response immediately. Your instructor and TAs manage a lot of emails.

Create a virtual learning community

Consider creating a virtual learning community to help you stay accountable. Your peers can help you learn the material and you can mutually support each other staying on track.

  • Stay in touch using Google.groups, sending a group text or using online apps such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, GroupMe, WhatsApp, or however you’d like.

  • Meet regularly and set a purpose for your meetings.

  • Articulate clear timelines and deadlines.

  • Help each other monitor progress.

  • Listen, be empathetic, generous, and kind. We are all in this learning environment together.

Adapted from "Adjusting Your Study Habits with COVID", from the Center for Academic Innovation, University of Michigan.

Communicating with intention and respect

We are all used to informal online writing styles (e.g., social media, chat rooms or blogs, and text messages). Because of the distance, it may be tempting to use a similar approach and/or writing style, maybe even communicating out of frustration or anger. But that is not ok just because the communication is online.

UC Santa Cruz asks students to adhere to our Principles of Community, helping us create a learning community that values and supports every person in an atmosphere of civility, honesty, cooperation, professionalism, and fairness. The UC Santa Cruz Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion also provides additional resources and information for students.