Student / Instructor Issues (What Should I do?)

Sometimes issues arise between the student and the instructor. It can be attributed to a host of issues such as: the instructor is too harsh, the student hasn’t done the assigned work, the instructor doesn’t explain the material well, the student doesn’t pay attention in class, etc., and let’s not forget personality clashes. Scripturally speaking here are some principles that apply here:

Hebrews 12:14a – Make every effort to live in peace with everyone . . . .

1 Thessalonians 5:12 – We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you (ESV)

Matthew 18:15 – If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.

Proverbs 15:18 – A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel

The key in dealing with conflict with your instructor needs to start at that point, respect.  You may not feel you are being respected, but that doesn’t negate God’s call for you to show respect. Not only that but showing dis-respect can have a negative effect upon any possible outcome.

So, what should you do?

  1. Pray about it – Get the Lord’s perspective – some things are worth going to battle over and other things are not. Don’t let your ego and pride push you into a conflict where you have violated your own principles. If after prayer you still feel you need to proceed, then move on to the next step.
  2. Present your case to the Instructor with respect and without blame. In most cases, the issue turns out to be related to misunderstanding or miscommunication. Laying blame only pours gasoline on the fire. Is your goal to attribute blame or to find a resolution? If you lay aside your ego and seek to understand as well as be understood this will solve most problems. This is in line with Matthew 18:15 and yet too often I find that students skip this step.  If you still do not believe you have reached a satisfactory solution, go on to step three. Note that if you haven’t taken this step, the first thing the Dean is going to ask is whether or not you have discussed the issue with the instructor.
  3. Contact the Dean with your concerns. Remember, there are two sides to every story and the Dean will also get the Instructor’s side as well as yours, so be sure you are focusing on a solution. Be honest. If you say the Instructor’s grades are too low, but you leave out the fact that your work has been turned in late or not at all, the Dean will find out and it won’t support your case.

There are some cases when the Dean may have to step in and assist both parties in finding a solution. Remember, however, part of what the educational process teaches is the ability to work with people, some of whom we don’t get along with very well. Those with high EQ (emotional intelligence) navigate these relationships smoothly, while those of us with less EQ tend to get “self” in the way and create more problems for ourselves than solutions.

Start with the Word (Bible) and prayer and get the Lord’s perspective before you react.