Tips on Communicating with your Instructors
- Always speak with your instructor privately and preferably during their office hours. You can find out when the instructor holds office hours during the first class session, and this information is typically, but not always, provided on the course syllabus. If an instructor does not have office hours, contact them as instructed as soon as possible but do meet privately with them.
- We would not suggest that you meet with a professor before a class begins because neither you nor they will have the time to adequately meet together, and chances are they might be rushing to start the class on time.
- Do not meet during class time, and only meet after class with the professor if all students have left the room. This is about your information, and you should guard it!
Approaching Faculty about your Disability -- HOW
- Approach your meeting with a firm handshake and a smile, introducing yourself with your first and last name, and the course in which you are enrolled. It’s always nice to know your instructor’s name before you meet with them. Provide them with a brief introduction of yourself, such as…
“Hello, I’m [ ], and I’m from [ ]. This is my first semester at FIT and I’m majoring in [ ]. I would like to speak privately with you about how I can best participate in your class. I’m registered with the Office of Disability Services, and this letter explains accommodations the coordinator decided would help me.”
- We do not recommend you discuss the nature of your disability, just the accommodations you will need. Some students feel comfortable sharing their disability information, but that is a personal choice. If, however, an instructor is curious and asks about your disability and this makes you feel uncomfortable, feel free to say you are uncomfortable sharing this information. Ask the instructor to speak with the staff of the Office of Disability Services and ask them to please remain focused on the accommodations listed in the letter.
- It’s okay to remind the instructor this information is your confidential information and to remember the instructor may be working with a student with a disability for the first time. Not everyone knows everything about disabilities, so this is what is considered a “teachable moment”, and a learning experience for both of you.
- The staff of the Office of Disability Services provides training sessions for faculty and has available printed materials as well.
- If ever an instructor states an unwillingness to provide you with one or all of the accommodations you requested, immediately contact the Office of Disability Services.
Communicating with Faculty about your Accommodations
- If you need accommodations for your exams, they must first be stated within your accommodation letter, discussed with your professors, and your professors can be gently reminded when you see them in their office hours. A healthy approach to working with your faculty about your accommodations is to meet with them for 10-15 minutes each of their office hours each week, so they get to know you better.
- Using Email/Text
Technology today can provide you with the ease of quick communication, but you may not always want to dash off a message to someone, even a one-liner, unless you have edited the message for content, typos, and tone of voice. For example, sending a message to the professor of your history course should not read as follows…
“Hey! Don’t forget that I get extra time for my midterm. You need to walk it over to Disability Services too. DON’T FORGET!!!
Dear Professor [include a name, which by midterms you should know]:
I’m in your LA251, section 208 course on Tuesday evenings. I provided you with my letter of reasonable accommodation earlier in the semester which certifies I have extended time for my exams. It would be appreciated if you were to provide them with my exam. I’ve arranged for my test accommodations with them.
P.S. If you have any questions, please contact me by phone (212) 217-xxxx, or e-mail me email@example.com.
That may be more than you wanted to write, but clear communication not only saves time, it establishes respect.