A good relationship with an instructor, coach or teacher is priceless. But a bad relationship can not only hurt performance in a single class, it can sour a student to the program as a whole, or even to education in general. Although some instructors work independently, most teaching happens within the framework of an institution. This means most instructors have a superior to whom you can write a complaint.
- Skill level:
Take notes about your concerns, sketching the exact reasons you want to write a letter of complaint. Be as specific as possible. "This teacher is rude" does little good. "This teacher uses unacceptable racist epithets" is more helpful. "This teacher calls me a word offensive to me and others of my nationality, at least once in every class" is ideal, if you specify the word used.
Ask yourself what you want the letter to achieve. In some cases, it's enough for a behaviour to stop. In others, you may want to see the instructor fired. Take into account the seriousness of his offences and look for an outcome that fits the severity.
List the steps you have already taken to get the teacher to correct his behaviour. In some teaching situations, you may not be comfortable taking any steps for fear of retribution in class. This is all right -- so long as you do take any steps you can be comfortable with.
Draft a letter detailing your complaint, the steps you have taken and the outcome you would like to see. Remain direct and to the point, using business communication etiquette. Avoid using emotionally laden or insulting language, because this can distract from the validity of your point.
Have at least two trusted friends read your letter for tone and content. What might feel reasonable to you in the heat of your anger might be noticed as too incendiary by a cooler head. Make any revisions you think are appropriate.
Edit your final draft and send it to the instructor's superior in the department. If you fail to see improvement in two to three weeks, contact the superior directly to schedule a face-to-face meeting.
Tips and warnings
- If your instructor works for himself, ask about his credentials and teaching license. Many instructors are credentialed through a higher authority, and you can complain to somebody in that organisation.
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