There's a story I like to tell my students:
When I was getting my Bachelor's degree at Crane, I studied with Ken Andrews. He is a kind, unfailingly generous teacher and person, but his strong personality was intimidating to me when I was 18 years old and just starting college.
Mr. Andrews used to encourage my studio-mates and me to "place it" while we were playing in our lessons. I had no clue what he actually meant by that beyond a vague impression that it had to do with clarity of sound, since he would only say it when my sound was fuzzy or unfocused. I should have asked him to clarify, but I didn't want to sound stupid.
It wasn't until the second semester of my sophomore year that I realized what he meant. I remember working away in one of the tiny, red-doored basement practice rooms in Crane when it came crashing into my brain what exactly he had been asking me to do: use a more focused air stream and imagine that you're aiming that air stream at one single point in front of you. In simpler terms, "place" the air rather than just blowing it out and hoping for the best.
This was a huge realization for me, and it gave me immediate results. I couldn't believe how simple it was, or how long it had taken me to understand. I asked some of my fellow studio members years later if they had had the same experience, and enough of them voiced a similar realization that I didn't feel stupid about not getting it right away.
This experience taught me something important about being a student as well as about being a teacher: clarity is key.
As a student, you should feel comfortable asking your teacher to explain something further if you aren't sure what they're talking about. You're there to gain knowledge, and it's up to you to take equal responsibility for your learning process.
As a teacher, you should check in periodically to ensure that your students understand you and aren't just nodding along to make you happy. Some students are so shy, eager to please, or lacking in confidence that admitting confusion is difficult for them. You can check for comprehension by asking open-ended follow-up questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."
Regardless of which side of the music stand you spend your time, an open line of communication will let everyone get more out of the experience.