Professors can be rather scary sometimes, as they are in a position of power and authority over you. However do not forget that professors are in fact human beings as well, and therefore have emotions and feelings, just like you do.
Many people fail to recognize the importance of this, but if you can manage to connect with them and get on their good side, you will inevitably be in a better place for success. This can affect how much time they are willing to invest in helping you, even after class hours, or how nice of a recommendation letter they will write you for your future career or graduate school.
And since professors are in fact human beings as well, with feelings, there is nothing better than looking interested in their lectures. They appreciate seeing students engaged in the class and sitting up straight with full attention on them. They do notice everything, including the students who are texting, yawning, and looking miserable and bored out of their minds. You will inevitably stand out to the professor if you appear to be actively paying attention and showing interest.
Even try greeting your professor upon their arrival to the classroom. Although it may seem a little too forced and obvious, try to observe how other students casually do it. This can go a long way, as professors too like to be recognized, as you would when entering the classroom.
Another valuable tool is asking questions. Professors do not stop their classes to allow for questions for nothing. They are looking for an intelligent response, showing that students are engaged, interested and craving more. If you can even manage to formulate a question based on a previous class’s material, your teacher will be in heaven.
However, do try to avoid questions just for the sake of asking one, for example something unrelated to the class material, or something like ‘will this be on the test?’. It is also important to use your intuition. Professors usually leave a question period as a way to break up the class. So do take this opportunity to ask away, however do not ask questions whenever you feel like it, when they are trying to begin or end their lecture, and asking every single class may seem a little overdone.
Another golden way to get on your professor’s good side is to try to continue the conversation after class, or even during their office hours. Show them that you are genuinely interested in the material, more than just for the sake of getting a good grade on the assignment. Even an email works if you are too shy to approach them in person.
If the professor asks for someone to present first, be part of debates, or serve as a discussion leader, and so on, always be the first to volunteer! Some professors will even take your braveness for going first into consideration when grading you presentation.
Some professors will even give students the chance to join them in their research, or engage in an internship with them. This is without a doubt an incredible way to develop a close relationship with your professor, let alone the experience you will get in your specific field.
In addition, even if you there are no opportunities to actually work with your professor, show interest in what they are working on. Most likely, what they have been researching for years is their favorite topic of conversation, and they are rarely asked by a student about what they are doing outside of the classroom lectures.
Often times as well there are departmental activities, such as lectures and meetings. Professors will both remember and appreciate seeing you there, and it shows you really care about the topic.
If you hear about currents events happening that are relatable to the class, then feel free to share them with the professor and the class. It shows that you are involved in the topic and see how the class material is relatable to real-life events. They will without a doubt be pleased to see this.
And don’t be afraid to congratulate your professors if you see that they have just achieved something! Even professors like to be recognized and praised for their accomplishments. Even if they haven’t published a book, praise your professor! Tell them you enjoyed the class. They also worry about how they appeared and performed in front of the class. Try to do it in the most casual, yet sincere way possible. Professors do not appreciate when it appears to be sucking up merely to receive a good grade.
Just as they appreciate receiving praise, they also appreciate receiving appreciation. They do not have to do all of the extra things they generally do for students, such as outside class hour personal meetings and responding to emails on weekends, giving extensions, and so on. They will remember the students that took the time to say a simple, thank you.
All things being said, it never hurt to be nice to your teacher.