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I'm studying a course remotely, and sent my teacher a message on Teams about 10 days ago now, asking a question. No response, but I can see the read receipt. Hoping to prompt a reply, I asked another unrelated question three days ago. Still no response, but this message has also been read. It's been in my teacher's work hours, and I know that they've seen the message, and haven't been on holiday or out of office.

The questions aren't vitally important, or I would have chased them up earlier, but I'm not convinced that 10 days is an appropriate amount of time to be waiting for a response to a very small question - especially as my teacher has explicitly said that we can contact them on Teams if we have any questions. So it's not as though that form of communication is out of bounds.

I'm in this course for two more years and want to keep things polite and professional, and would appreciate any advice on the best manner in which to chase this up, or prompt my teacher for a response.

  • Have you asked any other students if they are in the same situation ? – Fanie Void Oct 2 '20 at 12:09
  • There's just two of us. My colleague hasn't had exactly the same problem, but we've both received fairly little communication from the teacher in general. – Lou Oct 2 '20 at 14:13
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    A “read receipt” can be automatically sent by your teacher’s computer without the teacher actually reading the message. – gnasher729 Oct 7 '20 at 10:30
  • @gnasher729 - Possibly true, but doesn't really answer the question of how to respond to the situation where the teacher isn't responding. – Lou Nov 16 '20 at 14:52
  • possibly relevant: Are the expected answers to your questions something that the teacher could answer in 5 minutes or would it take him longer to look stuff up before he could answer them? – Imus Nov 17 '20 at 10:57
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Is this a course at university?

University teachers are often very, very busy and receive hundreds of messages a day. And very often, they simply cannot read anything. Or they read the messages and forget to answer because there are so many other things to do.

Please do not chase your teacher. The problem may be solved by now, but in general, I would recommend the following:

  1. Always chose a subject line that makes clear from the very start what you want. Write "Question on XY" instead of "Hi!" or things like that.
  2. Make clear that the answer is important to you, but always stay polite. No matter how long it takes until the teacher answers.
  3. If you do not get an answer, ask your question a second time. Maybe even a third.
  4. If you still do not get an answer, try the following: Does the teacher have a secretary? Or are there teaching assistants? Contact one of them and tell them about your problem. Ask if they can remind their boss to answer. Perhaps they can answer your questions themselves. Perhaps you will hear that your teacher is sick / on holiday / on a conference in Inner Mongolia and will answer at some time later.

If it is a school: Is there a headmaster? Or some other people responsible for the course you take? After several tries (only after several tries!) you can also contact one of them. Do not blame your teacher, just tell them that you need some information and you are not able to contact your teacher.

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  • Hi and welcome to IPS! Please take a minute to read our citation expectations. Answers on IPS need to include some backup in the form of either personal experience or references - could you explain why you think this advice will work, have you used this approach in a similar situation before, or is this something you've seen recommended by someone else? You might find How do I write a good answer? helpful too. – Ael 7 hours ago
  • This is at a college apprenticeship course, not a university, but I don't think it makes too much difference. I understand that lecturers are typically busy, but some considerations. 1) At the start of the course, the teacher specified that if I had any questions or issues to message any time. 2) I messaged very infrequently (I wasn't asking a question a week or something,) but 3) When I did message, I didn't get a reply for two or three weeks, and sometimes would have to send a follow-up message to get any reply at all. I don't think that's an appropriate amount of time. – Lou 7 hours ago
  • Anyway, the immediate issue is resolved and the teacher isn't even here anymore. In the end I coincidentally was asked for course feedback by one of the higher-ups, and honestly told them that my teacher wasn't responding to my messages. I just left this question standing as I was curious how others would handle the interpersonal aspect of trying to contact a teacher who - despite making it clear that they have an open channel of communication - ignores all communication. – Lou 7 hours ago

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