Is it just me, or is classroom etiquette pretty much non-existent most of the time?
To try and amend that, today on The Professional Collegiate we’re talking about how to be polite and always act with class and professionalism in class. This might be a strange thing to talk about, but I really think that it’s necessary, and it’s always nice to know the dos and don’ts for any situation. I’m so bad at picking up on the social niceties in a given situation–truth be told, usually I rely on my Nana to tell me what the unspoken rules are, and I just follow her lead (she is the epitome of class).
So, because we don’t have a Nana in the classroom with us, I thought I’d lay out the general rules of classroom etiquette so we can discuss and compile a great list together!
Why care about classroom etiquette? Short answer: because you want your profs and classmates to like you. You want them to see you as someone to take seriously, who is friendly and engaging but not ditzy or a disruption. Like with every post in this series, this is dedicated to helping you give off your best impression to the people who have a major say in your future!
So here are my rules for maintaining proper classroom etiquette! Enjoy!
1. Thou shalt not eat crunchy foods
Please, girls, just stop with the chips and the carrot sticks already. When you’re in class and rustling through a bag of chips, it’s incredibly distracting and completely unnecessary. And carrot sticks have to be the loudest snack ever (I have been guilty of this a few times). There are so many great snacks that don’t require loud chewing, crunching, or the like. Try cucumber instead of carrots, for instance, or home-popped popcorn instead of chips. Then, eat crunchy foods in the cafeteria or a louder area on campus where it’s no issue!
2. Thou shalt not speak of overly personal things
I’m in psychology, so maybe this doesn’t apply to all majors, but we have a very consistent problem of having at least one or two students in each class sharing overly intimate details of family or personal life in class that should really remain between the people involved, or a counsellor. We tend to delve into pretty deep stuff, like psychological disorders, which can bring up lots of past hurts. However, class is not the time to talk about your dad’s drug issues or how hard of a time you had when your sister got pregnant by accident. I’m not trying to be insensitive, but trust me–we all feel badly for you, but it’s very inappropriate to be sharing that in class, and I don’t want you to feel embarrassed or hurt by other people’s discomfort.
Maybe, if the professor is talking about something that’s hitting a nerve, ask if she/he knows of any services that you might be able to utilize on campus that would be a more productive method of working through your hurts. Our school, for instance, provides free counselling for students, and professors are more than happy to point students in that direction.
3. A lady does not kiss and tell
Similar to the above post, be careful with how you talk with your friends before class. You don’t know who’s listening, and trust me–we don’t want to hear about how that guy from the bar last night was. Even if your girlfriend is begging you for details, we’re begging you to stop.
I feel that we’ve lost a bit of the art of decency when it comes to our personal lives. I find it sad that I’ve heard that conversation so many times, because that means that that many girls do just go home with guys from bars, but please–keep your personal life personal. This doesn’t just apply to your own personal experiences, too! Classroom etiquette has no room for gossiping about other people’s *ahem* romantic endeavours. So even if you’re not talking about your personal experiences, it’s extremely unprofessional to be gossiping in the classroom, and it’s not very classy, either.
4. Thou shalt always raise thine hand
I have definitely noticed this more as the years have gone by, and maybe it’s because of the smaller class sizes, but why do some people not raise their hand in class? In my opinion, it’s never OK to interject your thought into the middle of what your professor is saying, even if it’s just a word or two, or a loud scoff or something–it’s disrespectful. Raising your hand gives the professor the choice whether or not to answer questions and break up the flow of the lecture. They’re the professor, they’re in charge–just shouting out your opinion is disruptive and extremely disrespectful. I’m not saying you have to sit there quietly with no emotion–it’s OK to laugh in class if your prof says something funny, but if you’re the only one laughing, and it’s so loud that it’s disrupting the class flow, maybe rein it in a little.
5. Thou shalt not treat class like the YouTube comment section
You know what I mean. This is not the place to get into a debate about abortion, or gay marriage, or evolution, or politics, or anything. There’s a difference between expressing your opinion and getting into a debate, but it calls for some discretion.
This rule calls for a little bit more classroom reading–some classes are more discussion based and profs love it when you share what you’re thinking, but others are really more lecture-based and it’s disruptive and annoying to have someone who’s constantly challenging and sharing opinions. A pretty easy way to figure this out is to watch what the prof does when someone starts to bring up somewhat controversial topics–does he prompt for more discussion, or try to answer it and move on?
Now, knowing that I’m going to get comments saying “But we have to stand up for our faith!” I want to ask you this:
Does fighting in class and causing a disruption help anything? Or is it better to be quiet and respectful and then talk to your professors and classmates outside of class hours? What’s a better witness, do you think?
I would argue the latter. There is a time to fight for your faith. But a time where it is disrespectful, provides no time to follow up with people afterwards, and puts someone in an awkward position isn’t the place–most of the time. Use your discretion, and do listen if you feel like you are being prompted to discuss your faith (I have multiple times in class–but it wasn’t a fight. It was just a comment). I personally believe that there are times to discuss your faith in class, but be professional about it. Act with class, and consider how you might be impacting the others in the room. Same goes for moral or political views.
So there you have it! Those are my “dos” and “don’ts” of classroom etiquette.
What would you add?
Like this post? Check out the rest of the series here!