Developing strong relationships with your high school teachers will definitely come in handy when it comes time to apply to college and you are asked to procure some solid letters of recommendation. Uprooted Academy recommends that you get the ball rolling and start to cultivate positive relationships from Day 1! Let’s talk about how to do just that.
Start with the basics. Arrive at your classes on time, say “hello” when you see your teachers in the hallway, and show an interest in the content by actively participating. These “small” steps may feel “basic”, but they will leave a positive impression on the educators you work with as you work to set a strong foundation for your relationships.
Show initiative. If possible, reach out to your teacher via email before the school year starts to introduce yourself and inquire about the syllabus. Complete all the assignments as they are assigned, but also lean into some or all of the optional or recommended reading. If you received a poor score, review your mistakes and reach out to your teacher for support in understanding how you could do better next time. If available, submit makeup work or extra credit assignments to boost your performance.
Connect with your teachers out of the classroom. Make the time to stay after class/school or drop by your teacher’s office hours to review material, ask questions, or get ahead. Doing so will not only support you in maintaining high marks on your report card, it will also begin to naturally foster a relationship between your teachers and you.
Open up. Don’t be afraid to share your future plans with teachers that you trust. If you have a dream college or career, let your teacher know! They may be able to find ways to make their class connect with your goals or refer you to opportunities and resources that will support you such as internships, scholarships, or part time jobs.
Be authentic. Be yourself! You may think that you have to perform the role of the “perfect student” but, the truth is, there is no such thing. You are worthy just as you are, so show yourself off and let your teachers get to know the real you. Finding ourselves is a lifelong journey, so you may need to make changes or shifts that will be beneficial to your growth while simultaneously striving to stay true to who you are. Make sure to grant yourself grace as you grow into the “you” you desire to be!
Collaborate. Work with other students in your classes and treat each of them with respect. Your classmates can provide you with a well rounded network of support and, in the same vein, you will have the opportunity to lend your assistance to students who need it. Your ability to work well with others will stand out to your teachers as well as encourage a positive class environment.
Be involved. Get involved in extracurricular activities around the school. While clubs and athletic activities are a great way to explore your interests and build upon your talent, being an active student on your campus will also allow you to connect with teachers and leaders in your school community in a different way. Depending on the relationship that is developed, these folks have the potential to serve as references in the future.
Consider who will be your recommender(s). When it comes time to ask for a recommendation, think about who knows you well and can provide a well-rounded image of who you are as a student. Colleges use your Letters of Recommendation to get a full picture of the applicant, beyond their transcript. It may be tempting to ask a teacher whose class you aced; however, if that teacher didn’t get to know you well, they will not be able to elaborate much. Instead, think of the teacher who has gotten to know you well and can speak towards your growth and trajectory as a student.
Provide sufficient time. Colleges sometimes ask for 2-3 letters of recommendation and it is important that you provide each of your recommenders with ample time. We recommend providing your teachers with about a month to complete this request. Don’t forget to check in kindly to ensure it has been completed as the deadline approaches.
Show gratitude. A little kindness goes a long way. Take the time to acknowledge and appreciate your teacher’s hard work. Write your teacher a thank you note to express how much their support meant to you. Try to get the letter to your teacher about 1-2 weeks after they submit your letter.
At the end of the day, developing solid healthy relationships with your teachers will make your time in high school much more enjoyable and set you up for success as you near the college process. Uprooted Academy is here for you each step of the way. We hope this list of suggestions has been helpful to you!