Classroom Behavior, Part II: What You Need to Know

In the last post, we talked about a few common types of issues that may arise in the classroom that affect your learning or the learning of your classmates. This time, I have a list of tips to make the most of your time in the classroom.

1. Bring the proper materials. You might not need to lug around what seems like a 50-pound textbook to class, but your instructor may recommend that you do. At the very least you should have a writing utensil and some paper. You never know when that attendance quiz will strike.

2. Know the guidelines of technology usage. Several instructors are okay with students taking notes with laptops or tablets. However, there will be some that aren’t. If you’re not sure of your instructor’s preference, the easiest thing to do is ask. Also, if you like to record your lectures, make sure to get your instructor’s permission first. If your instructor allows use of laptops in class, make sure the sound is turned off and please avoid using the Internet or participating in social media. Most often, instructors who don’t allow laptops have been burned in the past with students spending more time on Facebook than on listening to the lecture. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

3. Refrain from chatting with your neighbors. This should go without saying, but in every class, there’s a group of students who talk to each other in class (and most of the time it has nothing to do with class). It’s distracting to your fellow students and your instructor. If there’s something you don’t want to forget to ask your neighbor, write it down and ask her after class.

4. If you have to use the restroom, just go. You no longer have to ask permission to use the restroom. The assumption is that you’re now an adult and you won’t be roaming the halls trying to get out of learning something, especially considering the relatively short amount of time you’re in class. Just make sure to be as discreet as possible.

5. Participate in class discussions when you have something relevant to present. Nobody likes talking to a non-responsive class – it’s worse than talking to yourself! If the instructor asks a question you know the answer to or have something relevant to offer to the discussion, try to push shyness aside. Trust me, the vast majority of your classmates will be in awe and will be more likely to chime in! It also gives your instructor a chance to get to know you aside from tests and assignments.

In my fall college survival skills courses, there was a young man who just looked for a reason to talk. There may have been some underlying things at play in his quest for attention, but every time we posed a question to the class, he would say the first thing that came into his mind whether or not it was relevant to the discussion. Take a moment to think about what you want to say, make sure it pertains to the discussion and then commit to your statement. Taking control of your thoughts and how you present them is an exercise in maturity.


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