Communicating with Instructors

Contact Us

La Plata Campus
Ternita Kassim
Phone: 301-539-4720

Leonardtown Campus
Megan Rabie
Phone: 240-725-5420

Prince Frederick Campus
Renata Zgorski
Phone: 443-550-6009
Fax: 443-550-6100

In order to help yourself perform at your best in your college classes, it is essential to keep the lines of communication open with your professors, advisors, and the DSS staff. Confidentiality laws allow you to share only as much information with your teachers as necessary for them to be able to follow your accommodations plan, but if you feel comfortable sharing more information, you can do so. Here are some tips for communicating with your professors at the beginning of the semester and all the way through your college career.

  • Before the semester begins or in the first week of classes, contact your professors and make an appointment to see them. Let them know you are receiving accommodations for a disability and what your accommodations are. They will have to sign your accommodation plan, so this is a good opportunity to talk to them about how your disability might affect how you complete course requirements. If you are nervous about your meeting, practice what you are going to say with a friend, family member, or a member of the DSS staff.
  • If an instructor asks what your disability is, you do not have to give them details about a diagnosis or cause for your disability. You can say “I have documentation of a disability on file with the DSS.” However, if you feel comfortable sharing more information, they might be able to understand better how to help you.
  • Explain how your disability may affect your ability to complete requirements for the course, and what strategies you use to help you compensate for it. Emphasize your strengths, interests, and abilities. For example, you can say “My disability affects how well I can read words in a textbook, but a magnifier helps me to see the page better. I really love history, and I want to be able to teach someday.”
  • Ask your instructor questions. It might be helpful to find out if there are study groups available, his or her recommendations for studying for the class or preparing assignments, or whether there are supplementary materials like videos or study guides available. If it would help you or is part of your accommodations plan, you should find out if there are alternative projects that you can do to demonstrate your understanding of class content.
  • Some students like to make a standing appointment every few weeks to check in and discuss your progress in the course, or if you prefer you can let the instructor know you will visit during office hours. Of course, email is just as good a method of keeping in touch. The important thing is that there is communication!
  • Don’t wait until you’re already in trouble to seek help. As soon as you feel like there’s a problem, talk to someone! Contact your professor or the DSS. Whether you’re not doing well in the class, having trouble with your lab partner, confused about an assignment, or any other issue, we are here to help.
  • When you meet with your professor, whether at the beginning of the semester or during, make sure you are prepared. Bring any documents, papers, lecture notes, textbooks, or graded work that you might need to refer to. Prepare a list of questions to remind yourself what to talk about. Be specific! The more details you can give, the better your teacher can help you. But don’t forget, you have the right to confidentiality about your disability. You don’t have to give more details about private information than you feel comfortable giving.

Here is a link from Temple University that provide tips for communicating with your instructors about your disability.

Adapted from: University of Maryland University College: Communication Strategies for Students with Disabilities