Unauthorized classroom etiquette

Emily Eveland

I’m feeling compelled to share some of my unwarranted wisdom regarding classroom etiquette. Most of my insight stems from my own stupid mistakes and/or watching others make them before I had to suffer the same fate. These are mere observations and opinions — do what you will with them.


1. You don’t have to raise your hand 500 times a class period to prove you know the material.


Every class has the kid who raises his or her hand for every question the teacher asks. Sometimes these students are a blessing – it’s often that no one else read or wants to speak. Other times, it’s apparent that you don’t really know the answer, but are raising your hand mechanically. We don’t need to know your opinions on everything; in fact, you’ve told us quite enough already. There’s an art to hand raising. Look around you — rolling eyes are the first sign that you’re doing it too often.


2. It’s generally a bad idea to jump into class conversation after spacing out for the previous twenty minutes.


I’ve learned this lesson more times than I can count. In a two-hour lecture hall course, I’ll doodle in my notebook or read for my next class in a haze. Suddenly, I’ll hear a word I recognize, make a bizarre connection in my head, and rant about something completely unrelated until the professor clears his throat and says, “um, yeah, thanks.”


My advice in these situations is to take a few minutes to come back from la la land when you hear your favorite buzz word. Make sure you understand what’s going on and then speak.


3. Dear class joker, your jokes aren’t funny and it makes me sad.


I want to laugh at your jokes, I really do. I want to slap my knees and pat your back while thanking you for the wonderful class disruption. But frankly, your jokes often land so flat, I’d rather read pilgrim accounts for 24 straight hours. It pains me to watch you try and fail — my face turns red for you, my little Dane Cook. Don’t give up on your dreams . . . maybe just cut the jokes down to two or three per college career.


4. Your professor can see you texting under your desk.


Here’s a little experiment: just before the teacher arrives, stand at the front of the class. Now notice how much of the classroom is in your line of sight. Not too hard to see people’s laps, is it? Even if your professors can’t see your actual phone, they realize that the zipper on your blue jeans isn’t that enthralling. What else could you be looking at? I’m guilty of this, you’re guilty of this — we’re kids amidst the social networking craze. Just know that you’re not as sneaky as you think and, as crazy as it sounds, your text messages can wait.