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  • Michelle Silbernagel

How to Ask Teachers for Help


Asking teachers for help is not only okay, but it is also an essential part of the learning process. And now, more than ever, teachers appreciate students taking the initiative in their learning process.


That said, some ways of asking for help are definitely better than others and will result in better guidance from the teacher.


When a student speaks generally -- “I don’t understand,” or “I don’t get it,” they are not giving the teacher enough information to be able to provide meaningful guidance. Without specific input from the student, the teacher may resort to reteaching concepts already understood or inadvertently glossing over concepts with which the student was having difficulty.


Instead, students can take a more active approach by assessing their learning disconnect before reaching out to the teacher for help.

  1. Start by reviewing course materials and determine at what point, precisely, things start to fall apart. This will help you to clearly articulate what you need.

  2. Try to find the solution on your own first, using whatever materials your teacher has provided. If still stumped...

  3. Write down your questions in advance, this way you will have concrete questions when asking for help.

  4. Reach out. If you can get your question answered during designated class time, great. If not, send your teacher an email or schedule time outside of class during the teacher’s office hours. Be sure to take notes during the session and make sure you understand the answers to your questions. If it is still not clicking, ask the teacher if they could try to explain the concept another way.


Great “active learner” phrases to start with:

“I understand everything up to this point, but I am getting lost after ________.”

“I understand _______, but I don’t quite get ________.”

“I think I’m in over my head and need some guidance to get out.”

“________ isn’t making sense, but I’ve tried and I can’t figure out where I’m getting lost.

“Do you know of other resources I could use to try to figure this out?


Learning how to ask for help is a skill. It takes practice. But we all learn differently and at different paces. Getting comfortable with asking for help now will benefit students for years to come -- in school, at college, and in the workforce.


Inspiration for the active learner questions goes to Signet Education.

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