Report Writing - Getting help from your teacher

Assignments - Ask your teacher lots of questions

Your relationship with your teacher has some similarities to a relationship with a boss.

Upward management

An important thing you learn from working is the concept of “Upward Management” or “Managing your Boss.” It sounds strange but it is a very important part of being successful in the workplace.

This is an extra dimension of working for someone.

Managing your boss means elegantly working with them in a way that results in good outcomes for yourself.

The relationship between you and your boss should be a two-way street. Obviously your boss can ask you to do things, however you are also able to ask things of your boss. For example you can ask for guidance or for certain help to achieve your goals.

In business the most effective managers provide clear instructions to their staff. When they ask for a report they give clear details as to what it should contain. A poor manager gives vague instructions. This leaves the staff member confused and the result will probably not be what the manager has asked for. It is the same at university.

If the manager or teacher has given poor instructions, you need to have them clarified. This is part of managing your teacher. Ask the teacher specifics about the assignment.

This is the concept of “Open and Closed Loops” which can be found in many aspects of life.

Open and Closed Loops

“Open loop” means there is no feedback. “Closed Loop” means there is feedback.

Think of the air conditioner in your home. Old style air-conditioners were Open Loop. You set them to heat or to cool and away they went. No matter how hot or how cold the room was getting they kept pumping out more and more hot or cold air. This causes problems. You end up sweating or shivering.

Modern air-conditioners are Closed Loop. This means they measure the temperature of the air in the room and then adjust the amount of hot air or cold air they pump in. This leads to less energy being used and a more comfortable temperature.

Staff often find that they have a manager who seems to always leave them unclear as to what to do. This Open Loop situation is often stressful and you feel as though you are working in a vacuum. Your results also suffer.

If your teacher just gives you an assignment and you simply work away on it then you are working in an Open Loop. If you have a clear understanding of what is needed and you understand the theory then you should still do well in it.

If, on the other hand, you are unclear of the requirements then you may be working away in the wrong direction. This is where an Open Loop task can be a disaster. You may do hours of work and then still get a bad mark, even if you do know the theory well.

So, if you find that the assignment task is not clear, you need to turn this into a “Closed Loop” situation. You need to ask your teacher for clarification.

A good manager works with their staff in a Closed Loop situation. They give feedback, are open to questions and ensure that there is clarity. This is the same with good teachers.

If your teacher is not strong at this then you need to act to clarify the requirements so you are not working in vague circumstances. This is simply looking after yourself.

Teachers generally actually like it when you ask them questions, just as a good boss likes it. This shows you are interested and that you want to ensure that you understand their requirements well so that you can produce good results.

Don’t be scared to do this. You may be nervous at first but practice makes it easier.

It is part of being professional about your work.


Essays - Ask your teacher lots of questions