In short, YES! Emphatically, yes! Not only is it okay to ask your teacher for extra help, it’s a major part of the learning process.
However, there is a right way to seek help, and a wrong way. The best way to seek help is with an active approach.
What is an active approach? An active approach means you do everything you can to meet challenges on your own before asking for help. If you show up to a teacher’s office hours with no understanding of the material and haven’t even tried to figure it out on your own, your teacher will probably not appreciate this. You need to do some groundwork before asking for help:
- Be clear about what you need. Review course materials and figure out exactly where your understanding broke down.
- Try to handle the situation on your own first. Before going to your teacher, try to solve the problem yourself. You might check out the Khan Academy’s online resources--they break down major core concepts in all academic areas.
- Prepare by writing down your questions beforehand. Don’t show up and say, “I don’t get it.” What don’t you get? Be precise and clear, and make sure your questions are concrete.
- Reach out in advance. Email your teacher in advance letting them know the specific problems you’re having. Sometimes a question can be resolved easily in an email. If it’s more complicated, schedule time outside of class. When you meet with your teacher, take good notes, and ask lots of questions.
Teachers appreciate it when students reach out for help, but only if they are participating actively in their learning, not looking on passively expecting their teacher to do the work for them. So if you go in with the right preparation and the right attitude, you’ll not only learn, you’ll make a good impression on your teacher.