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I usually give my students a minute at the beginning of a class period to settle down; I time it to walk in one minute after the official class period.  But then I tend to expect that students will quiet down and pay attention to what is going on at the front of the room.  Yesterday I went in to my 9:30 class, said hello, and started to review the quiz that students had done in class the session before.  Then I realized that in spite of the fact that almost everyone was paying attention and was interested in getting back the test, two people at the back of the room were still talking.  Not terribly softly, either.  There was a guy and a girl sitting back there talking and talking.  I asked them to stop ("Could you please stop your conversation?") but they didn't hear me.  So I just stopped talking, and waited.  I have been told by others that this silent patient treatment usually works better than direct confrontation.  Not then.  I just stood there for to minutes while they went on, and on, then I finally did catch the guy's eye again, and asked him to stop talking and said that it was "incredibly rude, and distracting to me and everyone else in the class, when you talk when I am talking."  His response?  "I didn't know you had started talking."  And I couldn't help but answer "That is because you couldn't hear me."  They did stop talking.  Mostly.  And we went on with the class.

A colleague of mine just talked with me yesterday evening about how it can help our students to think about their being a student as a professional job.  Students know what a job is.  And they tend to understand that you wear specific types of clothes depending on the job you have (a uniform, a smock, a suit, a pair of comfortable or high-heeled shoes; each job has its own vernacular), you don't talk back to the person who is your supervisor, the one who writes your evaluations, you learn quickly what you have to do, how you have to act, and how and when to follow the rules, even if the rules are not actually written out (for example, don't sleep with the boss unless you are willing to put up with the consequences).  But when it comes to being a student, those ideas of what is a professional demeanor seem to disappear sometimes.  

One of the most important "rules" in life for getting along in this world is that one should be polite and considerate of others.  (I know, I know...  Not all Republicans follow this, but do you really want to model your life on Republican values?).

Follow me below the orange spider squiggle for more.

I am not offended if you don't want to be in my class.  I am quite fine if you decide this isn't what you really want to do.  I may well be disappointed, but I am not offended.  But it will benefit you and me if we are both polite, and even one or the other of us doesn't really have sincere respect for the other, we can manage to live with a polite fiction.  

So even if you don't want to be there, don't let me know that.  I will pretend not to know, and you can pretend to be really interested, and we both will benefit in the long run by that pretending, and maybe in the long run you will learn how cool this content and methodology is, and I will get to know how really talented a student you are. Pretending is not the same thing as lying.  One can benefit both parties by hopeful pretence.

Another thing to keep in mind is that I am your supervisor in the classroom.  I am your elder.  You wouldn't (shouldn't?) be rude to your grandmother.  You shouldn't be rude to me.  When you have a concern about a particular assignment or think I graded you incorrectly, I am happy to talk with you about it, and happy to talk things through and explain my grading and make changes if there is a cause for it.  I do regularly recalculate grades, but I don't often give someone a higher grade simply because he or she thinks a higher mark was earned.  But I will always listen to you.  And I will try to explain why I gave you the grade I gave you.  

You need to take a class seriously, as if it were a job.  My job is to make sure you get exposure to the material and if you put into the class what I ask you to put into it, you will learn the material.  Your grade is dependent on achieving that, not on your paying the fee for the class.  You are not "owed" any grade.  You will not get anywhere by telling me that you paid for it, so you should get whatever grade you need -- you will get the grade you earn (This very seldom happens, honestly, but I have been teaching for more than 21 years, and I have had a couple of these conversations).  Don't bully me.  Don't threaten me.  In addition to being rude, that can also stray into criminal activity.  Be polite.  

I do think that many students have never thought about what activities are rude and how one should behave in class.  It is like a movie theatre, or those ads for DVRs.  When you are used to watching teevee and can have a conversation, multitask, and go back to repeat something you missed, and then you go to the movies and you want to do the same thing, but you can't. But if someone never told you it was a problem it might not occur to you.  I once read a newspaper through a whole semester's class because I really knew the material (or thought I did) and so desperately didn't want to sit through the hour it lasted three times a week.  I am still horrified at my own behaviour.  But if the teacher had ever told me to put away the paper, I would have done so in an instant.  It just didn't occur to me how rude I was being.  Therefore I do talk about classroom etiquette at the beginning of every semester, and I include a statement about "Classroom Etiquette" in each syllabus, alongside the statement about disability services available to students, my attendance policy, and the grading scales.  This is it:

GENERAL ETIQUETTE:  Please do not eat in the classroom (the cleaning staff will hate us!). Generally be polite.  Do not read the newspaper while class is going on or do homework for another class.  Do not talk to your neighbour.  Computers, phones, etc., should be turned off and remain off while in class (tests and quizzes will be hand-written and writing provides a different way of recording information as well as making test-taking much easier).  If there is an emergency requiring your monitoring of your phone, please talk with me before class.
I figure it doesn't hurt to have it written out, and to remind people that politeness is an important aspect of classroom survival.  What do you think?  What is the rudest you have been in class, and does it still bother you like it does me (that class for me was almost 30 years ago, and it still rankles)?  What do you do when a student is rude to you as a fellow student, or when you are the teacher?  

Originally posted to annetteboardman on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 12:19 PM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar, and the punch line to my class incident (52+ / 0-)

    At the end of class, the very conversational student came up to me to let me know that he was dropping the class.  I told him thank you for letting me know.  It was definitely fine with me.  No one has to take my class for any major or minor that isn't directly in my field.  And he clearly wasn't into it.

    •  Great diary! Agree 100% (13+ / 0-)

      I teach freshman college students in a small class this year (and other classes) , and told them on the first day of class:

      "I am paid to be here and give you all my attention.  You pay to be here and should therefore give me all your attention.  Bring your laptops for your online teamwork, but if I see you chat, text or anything else online or on your phone, you are out the door. "  Not one student questioned that, and they seem to love my class.

      However, the next day I was in a 5-hour workshop and a colleague left her iphone hidden in a binder on the table and it vibrated with new text messages about every 25 min so we all could feel it, and it was extremely disturbing, and this despite that the moderator had said to keep it on only for emergencies.  One of the emergency texts was that her husband had run out of diapers and had to go to the store... sigh. The lack of focus is often equally or worse among more senior people.

      I really don't have these problems with disruptive students, but then I don't teach large classes. I do interrupt my lectures and walk up to students I see texting and ask them if they want leave the room.  That happens once in a class and never again.  But I struggle with lots of plagiarism instead, and students that don't come to class and then don't to well on exams and blame us, the teachers.  Oh well...

      All my colleagues are talking about how rude students can be, be then they are themselves too eager to check their e-mails on their iphones in the middle of a faculty meeting.  I think a lot of the students just take after parents and other people around them... the expectations have been lowered definitely - it is an uphill battle definitely!  You are doing the right thing Anette!

      "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

      by profmom on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:40:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wait, this is COLLEGE? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maf1029, revsue, mamamedusa, Black Max, ColoTim

      I thought it was a kinda ho-hum high school story. But college is a different deal. Pretty outrageous for college.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 09:24:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I went to my partner's Psych 101 class... (20+ / 0-)

    the other day.  

    The students were mostly sitting in the back talking and playing with their i-pods.

    Her course was well presented.  She was dynamic and energetic.  She tried to engage the students by discussing issues that they may be interested in.

    Yet, for the most part they just sat there--disengaged.  Three girls beside me talked the entire way through class.  The guy in front of me was doodling in his notebook.  People came in late and left in the middle of the lecture.

    I left there feeling as if something was just wrong with these people.  It was only week 2.  And she told me that 3/4ths of her entire class was absent.

    Something is very wrong with the world today.

    •  And then they wonder why they can't get jobs. (6+ / 0-)

      I get it; it's a rough job market for new grads. I don't blame any particular individual for not having a job right out of school.

      On the other hand, you'd think anticipating a difficult job search would motivate people to make the most of the networking and resource development that is a college education. But no-- too many of our students approach it as purchasing a credential rather than building social capital.

    •  It sounds like she (6+ / 0-)

      could benefit from setting some clear rules such as Annette described.

      If I were a student in the class I would definitely appreciate the instructor putting a stop to this, which is rude to the other students as well as the teacher. Sitting in a class where everyone is paying attention is a quite different experience from sitting in one where people are doing whatever they want.

      I'm an old-timer. One of the things that has changed since I was in school is that this was never tolerated then. I'm very curious about when, how and why instructors lost control over their classrooms. Did it start with the advent of cell phones, or was it before that?

      We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

      by denise b on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 08:50:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree. I started teaching at University when I (4+ / 0-)

        was 50 after 25 years as a research scientist.  

        I never thought classroom management would be required at University level.

        Laissez-faire doesn't work.  It is unfair to the students who want to pay attention.  I tell students I give participation points for my class but I don't take attendance.   If they don't want to actively participate, don't come.  But if they come and fall asleep, they will be getting a stream of questions.

        I've been lucky not to teach a class bigger than 25. In classes of 300, you just have to teach to the median student.

        Mitt Romney's moral compass points to the Cayman Islands.

        by captainlaser on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 09:15:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is a result of the "education as a commodity" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        model and of the extension of k-12 to College/University. Students do not feel like college is something at all or in any way connected to their lives. They believe it is another hurdle they have to jump through in order to "get on" with their lives. Hence, they have absolutely no interest in the education they are getting into debt for the rest of their lives over.

    •  She should have never allowed that. Not only (7+ / 0-)

      is it disrespectful to her, but to every other student in there who paid good money to be there....everyone deserves a quiet learning environment. It will only continue and get worse, if she does not nip it in the bud immediately.  I never allow that to go on.

      I , too, allow a few minutes after I shut the door for all to settle in and get out supplies.  I stand at the front of the room waiting.  Once my first words come out of my mouth at the podium, I allow no one to speak unless I am opening a discussion, and they know when that occurs.

      If I have a group who are so rude as to disturb us, I will walk to their area and wait exactly 1 minute.  I will look at my watch.  If they continue, I will quietly walk to my door and open it.  I tell them to leave and come back next session and to be prepared to work the next time because they will need make up the zero they just received for this day.

      She should have never allowed it.

  •  Dropping by to say hello (5+ / 0-)

    "The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead." ~ Paul Krugman.

    by Neon Vincent on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 12:33:58 PM PDT

  •  Boilerplate from my syllabus (13+ / 0-)
    Talking to other students during the class provides a disruption for other students.

    If you must talk to someone else in the class, then leave the class.

    Students who insist on talking among themselves in class will be asked to drop the class.  

    Please keep your cell phones turned off during class.

    This also means no texting during class.
    If you text during a class, you will be dropped from the course.

    A common misconception about human behavior is the ability to multitask
    Virtually all multitaskers think they are very good at it

    Research, however, does not support this
    The research shows that people who multitask constantly erode their mental circuitry

    With multitasking your brain loses its ability to focus

    What the research indicates: Do one thing at a time

    In class you are not to work on any materials for any other class

    If you work on materials for another class during this class, you will be dropped from this class

    Since I'm at a small community college in which most of the students also work--and most have full-time jobs--I don't really have a lot of problems.
  •  This is HS behavior, (8+ / 0-)

    I never would have expected this at college.

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 02:18:20 PM PDT

  •  as an adult going back to college I was rather (10+ / 0-)

    insulted that the first few pages of syllabus etc. were to cover rules like don't eat, don't cheat, don't talk, don't seriously I wasn't planning to do any of those but the talking and I know when to quit. But it was immediately apparent that I must have come from either a different planet or out of the last generation to have any public manners. Wow. Just try to get students off their phones & things. A college professor has to tell the students to keep their hands on the table and off their equipment?! Strange days. But then I still take notes and do my first drafts longhand...

    "Had we gone the invasion route, the US could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." -- George H. W. Bush, "A World Transformed," 1998 memoir (explaining why the US did not occupy Iraq in the 1991 "Desert Storm" war)

    by nuclear winter solstice on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 02:47:06 PM PDT

    •  I know! Over the years my syllabus and project (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gruvkitty, annetteboardman

      briefs get more and more specific because students can't or won't do things correctly without intense specificity.

      I know it is a "least common denominator" approach, but it does get better work out of them, once they get beyond feeling insulted by the specificity.

      I get frustrated with the eating - even in rooms that don't have a reason not to (like lots of electronic equipment). Life is not a salad bar.

  •  your students are there in class... (9+ / 0-)

    ...when it is supposed to start?  I always have to watch them trickle in for 10 minutes or so.

    •  My best professors just locked the door. Maybe let (6+ / 0-)

      you in, maybe not but there's no slipping in quietly, and it seemed to get everybody on course in a week or two.

      "Had we gone the invasion route, the US could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." -- George H. W. Bush, "A World Transformed," 1998 memoir (explaining why the US did not occupy Iraq in the 1991 "Desert Storm" war)

      by nuclear winter solstice on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:41:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some of my colleagues have a fix for this... (9+ / 0-)

      ... a 10-min unannounced quiz that starts on time and only lasts 10 min.  If you are late, then you miss the points.

      "Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum.

      by profmom on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:44:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Every quiz given has to be graded. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annetteboardman, Vatexia, mamamedusa

        That's not something I enjoy.

        •  Make it one question, worth 100 points. If you (7+ / 0-)

          really want to make a point...make the question:

          Are you here and on time?

          100 points or a zero.

          •  LOL that's old school. I like it. nt (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mamamedusa, ColoTim
            •  I am certainly old school. I am cool about some (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ColoTim, annetteboardman, Black Max

              things that don't disrespect mine own or others' time in the class, such as phones when silenced.

               However, coming to class late distracts me.  If you walk in late, I have to stop, even if just momentarily.  I have to hand you whatever I might have handed out at the beginning of class.  I have to give you our current topic of discussion.  I have to watch as you unpack your gear in front of someone who was kind enough to show up on time. I have to listen to you as you whisper to your classmate to find the location or page of my lecture.  So, it is simply not tolerated without consequences.

               I will exemption for the first two days of class, because you can get lost or are not used to the time frame between classes.  After that, if everyone is not accounted for 5 minutes into class time, I ask everyone to get out a sheet of paper and answer a one question quiz.  If I am in the mood to grade and an assessment is necessary, I will ask a relevant question for that purpose...but I have also at times just said "Write you name on it and pass it up."

              Also, when going over my syllabus the first day of class, I lay out my rules and state "I am not here to be your friend or be in the running of favorite professor of all time.  I have a job to do and you need to actually learn something hence the reason for my insane, unfair, not cool, bogus, dumb a$% rules."  ...I then smile and we start the semester.  :)

    •  in nursing school, we are told (3+ / 0-)

      if youre on time, youre late.

      no one is late in my class of 40+

      Silence is GOLDEN, but duct tape is SILVER =)

      by effervescent on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 08:43:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are you in an inner city or urban school? (5+ / 0-)

      I have taught students from Howard U. who drifted in 45 minutes into a 1:15 class.

      I was appalled but the faculty there said, "They do that all the time."

      Why?  Because they get away with it.

      So give quizzes in your first five minutes.  Assign homework in your first five minutes.   They'll start coming when they find they are missing points.

      Mitt Romney's moral compass points to the Cayman Islands.

      by captainlaser on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 09:21:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I tell my students that class begins at the stroke (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ColoTim, annetteboardman

      of [insert beginning time here], and that if they arrive after I am done taking attendance, they are late. If they are more than 15 minutes late, they are absent. They have 3 absences they can use throughout the semester, for any reason, before attendance begins to have a negative impact on their grade. Three lates, even if they are just one minute late, equals one absence.

      I teach a professional program (graphic design) and I tell students that if they were chronically late or absent from work they would be fired, and they must consider the training for their professional career an opportunity to learn those skills as well.

      Punctual attendance isn't a problem for me, except for the occasional student who simply has those problems. The grade always reflects it, and usually they have other problems with their work because of it, which also shows up in evaluation.

      People with legitimate challenges in their lives (chronic illness, caregivers for ill parents/children, that sort of stuff) are cut a break on the pure attendance bookkeeping, which we negotiate privately, but they are still responsible for work they miss.

  •  One suggestion. (6+ / 0-)

    Focus on what you want. Your classroom "General Etiquette" focuses completely on behavior you don't want. Instead rephrase it more simply in a general positive statement that you do want and can apply to all those situations in a way that will supports the type of classroom culture you want.

    For example, I use the simple "Demonstrate respect for the class, your peers and the teacher once you enter my classroom." If someone is talking when I start class I'll pretty directly at full teacher voice ask them "Hey Johnny, how are demonstrating respect for me and the class right now?" They usually get it. If they don't, I'll quickly add in "Here's the answer: you're not." Then move on and not dwell on it.

    If the behavior repeats or starts to develop into a pattern, then it's an individual issue that needs to be addressed with the student privately. But regardless, the class as a whole gets the idea pretty quick and develops a culture that I can build upon without a giant list of rules not to do. If some behavior becomes an larger class issue, then I can use that as a teachable moment for the whole class.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

    by michael in chicago on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:05:23 PM PDT

    •  I'm not a teacher, but as a nurse, (3+ / 0-)

      I do plenty of cognitive behavioral therapy groups, and, frankly, bad behavior is my bread and butter, because its detection and redirection can be used so effectively during sessions.

      When speaking during shift-to-shift report among colleagues, I'm a lot less grateful when someone gets into a side-conversation or checks a smartphone, because paying attention is crucial to safety for us.

      And as for smart phones, as a charge nurse, when I've caught subordinates with them in hand or pocket while on the floor, I simply confiscated them and wrote them up. Fun, fun, fun! In these days of HIPAA, having a cellphone on your person while on the job is a huge liability and, simply, a fireable offense.

      Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig

      by rhubarb on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 08:11:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Only one problem... (5+ / 0-)

    I have to have my Cell on.  I always clear it with my professors before hand, and try to sit in the back.  If I have to take a call, I leave quietly and quickly and take it in the hall.

    I'm not trying to be a jerk, I have 2 children and it is critical that I be in contact.  Most of the time my professors understand, provided I communicate clearly.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:10:10 PM PDT

  •  I'm Probably Going to Get Crushed for This (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dretutz, Nance, indubitably

    I just don't agree with everything you wrote. All I could think of while I was reading this was the $1325 a month I send Sallie Mae. I think professors have to keep in mind that students pay ALOT to go to school these days. Obviously, nobody has the right to speak during your class, and you should be able to throw people out if they do so. However, if I am in a class and I want to use my computer to take notes, look something up, or whatever, I won't be told no. If I want to check my email on my phone or send a quick text I won't be told no either.

    After grad school I taught for a couple years. I really made an effort to accommodate my students and make their lives easier. I did things like email students if they missed a deadline and offered to let them hand in assignments. I knew a lot of them were overwhelmed with work and other classes. I also knew that they were paying a ton of money and they were owed a certain leeway as a result.

    I guess my point is college students these days should be treated less like kids and more like a customer at a Porsche dealership.

    •  Millenial, eh? (4+ / 0-)
      If I want to check my email on my phone or send a quick text I won't be told no either.
      You are correct - you won't be told 'no'.  You won't be in class.
      •  I guess my point is.. (5+ / 0-)

        Students shouldn't make noise or interfere with the ability of others to listen to a lecture or participate in class discussion. However, if they are keeping to themselves they should be left alone.

        I had a similar discussion with the Dean of Students at my law school. He didn't care if people were on their computers, playing with their phones, or if they showed up at all. The reason was that he was a very good lecturer. His classes were worthwhile and he knew that when people missed them or didn't pay attention they wouldn't fare well on the final exam.

        Ultimately, making your class worthwhile and making careful attention necessary to success in the class, is going to be more effective than throwing somebody out of a class for checking an email, regardless of how much you enjoy the power trip.

      •  Aw! Not fair pulling the gen card! (4+ / 0-)

        (Old, old Xer, here). Some of the hardest workers I know belong to the Millenials, and it seems to be considered a useful generational trait, if one believes the material taught in HR circles.

        That said, I don't entirely agree with Aaron, after the years of grade-grubbing and special pleading I've seen in college. We're all special, argued one way.

        And school isn't geared to be like a smorgasbord or Porsche dealership.

        Neither is the workaday world. Just ask any supervisor in any at-will shop. Ask me. When I have confiscated a cell phone from an employee on a nursing unit floor, it has been because of HIPAA and patient dignity. Need to use your cell phone? Go to the break room. Expecting a crucial call? Let your supervisor know and trust that the other party uses the emergency contact landline at your place of work.

        Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig

        by rhubarb on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 08:21:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I See Your Point (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dretutz, revsue, Nance, indubitably

          Smart phones in your work setting present a security risk and obviously you need to take the phones away when you see them.

          My only point is that a student paying thousands of dollars to sit in a class should be able to check a text message if he or she needs or wants to. Professors like to stress to students that they aren't in high school anymore but they need to understand the same.


    •  I agree about computer. People use them to take (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      notes.  90% percent of my class type their notes in lap tops or tablets.  I also ask them to look up debatable points during discussions.

  •  My class is made up of students... (6+ / 0-)

    ...with slightly less self control than yours.

    Granted, they are six and seven year olds.

    I teach French (Immersion) to Grade 2 - or as I like to put it, I teach the Unusable to the Unwilling. But there are certain congruencies in our clientele.

    I think all class etiquette comes down to routines and expectations, and most difficulties arise when there is too much difference between the expected routines of the teacher, and the routines of the students.

    The alarming development that I have seen in the last little while in kids as young as 7 and as old as middle school is that a growing number of  students do not even know how to learn a routine... because they have none in their lives.

    * Students who are dumbfounded when you ask when their bedtime or suppertime is, the whole concept of having a set time  for these daily events is so outside their  experience. They eat (or rather, are served food) in front of the television or computer. Or they grab some zappable junk food. They fall asleep on the couch or wherever.

    * Students who do not know that they CAN be silent. Indeed, silence seems to terrify them. We had fire drills this last week, and students COULD NOT stop talking at all on the stairs - even when they were confronted with immediate real consequences - they could NOT shut their mouths for more than 10 seconds once an adult was not within 2 metres.

    * Students who cannot recognize consequences of their actions - whether enforced by authority or naturally. They seem convinced that they can talk their way out of, or otherwise avoid all consequences as an entitlement...

    * Or students who reflexively resist all directions from authority. I used to wear a "Question Authority" button, and by God I meant it! But this aversion does not even rise above unthinking knee-jerk. There is no critical understanding - just a resistance to following advice that would have them completing tasks.

    As I said - this lack of self-discipline is particularly extreme and it is spreading...

    Of course, I blame the teachers...

  •  I am not in sales. An education is not a commodity (8+ / 0-)

    The customer is not always right.

    I build flexibility into my courses where it's appropriate and effective. I'm not a novice at this anymore; I have a pretty good sense of what it takes to get a roomful of students where they need to be in the fifteen weeks I have with them. They need to trust my professional judgement on that.

    I had a student texting during a classroom discussion this week. We were sitting in a big circle and had a good conversation going about the week's readings. As one student finished making his point, before another student responded, I asked the class to wait a moment for their classmate to finish what clearly must be a very urgent text. We sat in silence for a while, until someone sitting next to the texter got her attention and said, "She's talking about you."

    In the big lecture course I'm teaching for the first time, I had a student kick back and go to sleep up in back last week. I started this past week's lecture by reviewing CPR with the students, asking someone to remind the group how one responds to an apparent loss of consciousness. Yeah, I will ask someone sitting next to you to initiate CPR if you do that again, rude student.

  •  Try teaching inner-city (7+ / 0-)

    If I stood outside my door for 1 minute, there would be a fight, and half the stuff on my desk would get stolen.  The children I teach do not have parents that teach them how to behave in the working world, so that is something I have to do.  We start with expectations and beginning work, but to stand and wait for students to come to attention on their own?  Yeah, right.

    I really wish students could drop my class, or that I could ask students to leave.  But, they're stuck with me and I'm stuck with them, and I do really enjoy teaching all of them.  I just wish it was that easy.  At the end of the day, I know I have contributed to making them better students, taught them a little more about their history, and I feel better about myself.

  •  I was in a lit/crit class in college as a last- (4+ / 0-)

    minute requirement for graduating. I hated it. I actually told the professor in front of everyone that explicating texts was "child's play" and in no wise an essential skill. The professor, I learned later, was a "ground-breaking narratologist," to use her own words. Boy, did I ever work hard for that D+!!!!

    Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig

    by rhubarb on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 08:02:44 PM PDT

  •  some confusion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aaron007, Dretutz

    There is some confusion here.  You appear to be teaching at the college level.   These students are paying you, they are your customers.  You should learn to treat your customers with more respect.  

  •  i agree for the most part (4+ / 0-)

    I am a full time nursing school student and mother of 3.
    My middle child is in high school and I have to be available due to his autism.  I get alot of emails during the day, that fit in to my 6 hours of lectures.  

    I quickly see the email, gage whether to leave the classroom if its very important or just scan and reply with a quick yes or no.  

    Because I am the grandma in the room, I tend to send out the "shushes" when I see the teacher loosing patients with the talkers.  Its not to be the class favorite, I just want to learn and if I am distracted, I'm not afraid to voice it.

    I dont think I've overstepped any boundaries.  And I was very surprised at the younger set's rudeness and geez, the way some dress.  holy toledo.

    Silence is GOLDEN, but duct tape is SILVER =)

    by effervescent on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 08:36:01 PM PDT

  •  This is what my syllabus says (4+ / 0-)

    It's an 8 AM class.

    We are all busy in modern society; probably many of us have hectic work schedules or other pressing obligations to fit around coming to class.  Attention may falter, we may be cranky (me, too).  Let's work on creating a positive and supportive learning environment.  Please be respectful of others, including me, by making every effort to come in on time, or quietly if late; obtain the notes from a friend if you miss class; and not be disruptive to class time.  Please turn off and put away cell phones and please refrain from texting.  You are welcome to drink coffee or any other beverage that will not alter your consciousness in class provided you clean up after yourself, but I’d prefer that you don’t eat breakfast or anything that makes noise while class is going on.
    It mostly works.  I arrive in class 5 minutes before it starts, which means they tend to settle down when they come in.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 08:41:32 PM PDT

  •  I had the students lock the door to my classroom. (5+ / 0-)

    I had new students last spring.  1/2 freshmen and 1/2 transfer students from CC.  I don't know where they got the idea that they could walk in late and just walk in and out during class on a 20 person seminar.

    So when one of the students walked out during class, I asked the person closest to the door to lock it.   When he tried to come back in five minutes later, he about rattled the doorknob off.

    I went to the door, unlocked it and asked if I could help him find the correct class to be in.

    He got the message I guess.   He was going out for a smoke in the middle of class.

    Sadly, he didn't last the term (one of my 3 drops).  But the rest of the students stopped walking out of class and went to the bathroom before they came to class.

    Mitt Romney's moral compass points to the Cayman Islands.

    by captainlaser on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 09:09:00 PM PDT

  •  from the trenches, I can comment... (3+ / 0-)

    ...that your proposed boilerplate above is a damned good idea. Well done!

  •  Dr. Kuo provided me with an object lesson (3+ / 0-)

    that I share with my middle/high school students 30+ years later.

    He was an old Korean professor, very quiet and truly brilliant, working at a small state college. He was teaching us the US Constitution. One of his inviolable rules was don't be late (8 am class) -- one tardy = failure.

    Three frat kids came in at 8 am on the dot one morning. They had had some kind of sunrise Bloody Mary celebration, and were obviously drunk. They sat in the back and whispered/muttered about Dr. Kuo through the entire class, including the usual racial slurs. He couldn't possibly hear them, though those of us within a few desks of them certainly could. Dr. Kuo said nothing at all to them.

    The next day they weren't in class. Nor were they in class the next day, or the next. I later found out that Dr. Kuo had gotten all of them kicked out of school -- no refund, no appeal, presumably on the strength of their racial imprecations and their inebriation in class. Since the school was part of the UNC state system, they were effectively banned from ALL of the state schools, not just the one.

    When I tell my kids this story, someone inevitably says that it "wasn't fair" that they got kicked out for a first offense. I tell them that: a) fair is a weather condition, not a life condition, and b) that's the way the world works -- one strike, not three, and you can be out. No college "owes" the students any remedial instruction in Respect and Tolerance 101, any more than a job or a military career. School (elem/middle/high) is the last place where they can expect to have adults work with them to overcome their deficiencies and teach them basic fundamentals of common courtesy, decency and respect. If it happens anywhere else, it's by the choice of the people running that particular show, and not by mandate.

  •  The flipside (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annetteboardman, kurt

    I absolutely agree with everything that you say.   And, I wish that many teachers felt the same way about their own role as teachers.   My daughter left public school.  Teachers were  unable to comprehend the constraints of my daughter's medical condition, and were literally cruel to her by ignoring her pain, refusing to allow her access to the school nurse and belittling her condition.   It made me pay more attention to the behavior of teachers in general, and I was less than impressed with what I saw.

    For example, my daughter wandered into an area where she should not be.  It was her first time, and she genuinely made a mistake.  The Vice Principal turned red in the face, and stood in the lunchroom which is designed like an amphitheater and yelled loud enough that the entire school heard her, and was literally spitting.  Yes -- nasty liquid stuff was shooting out of her mouth.    Her school nurse was standing nearby, with an ironic eye cocked, and the kids remained calm and watched her volcanic eruption with amazement.    No one back-talked her or egged her into this amazing eruption.  It was entirely spontaneous.

    Class, what did we learn today?    Let's all do it together, class, just like the Vice Principal.  When you are frustrated or angry, what do you do?   Now, screw up your face, and think very angry thoughts.   Stand where the building will echo and amplify your screams of rage.   And, don't forget to spit.   Spitting is very important.   My daughter said to me after this incident, "I felt like I was in a Disney movie."  (with the comic stereotype of the insane school principal).

    My daughter is a respectful and obedient child, and a simple explanation of the rules, and a polite request would have been more than sufficient.   In other worse, simple civil behavior.

    The Vice Principal also insisted another girl's skirt was too long, although when the girl dropped her arms, the skirt was two inches past her fingertips.   The principal then insisted that, "Well, it's shorter in the back".  The kids kept their mouth closed, although the skirt was clearly longer in the back.  

    Are you paying attention, class?  School rules are arbitrary, and previously published rules and objective measures don't apply.   The rules are whatever someone made up just now,  at the time they say it.  

    This is the same Vice Principal who will not allow the nice shy young transgender boy to wear modest transgender clothing.   The whole school celebrated when she went on maternity leave, and the nice young man was able to cross-dress for six weeks, without being harassed.  

    Pay attention, class.   Harassing transgender boys is a skill that it important to teach our children at a very young age.  Let's all practice together.

    Of course, no one can say anything to The Vice Principal, because she was the Vice Principal -- assistant to God.   The SECOND HIGHEST ROLE MODEL TO THE ENTIRE SCHOOL  

    This is the final exam, class.   WHO is the right hand man to God?   What is the rule of law?   The published  rules or whatever the vice principal makes up to harass you?    If you guessed "B", you are correct.   When should you be punished?   When you did something wrong, or when the vice principal is in a bad mood and wants to beat up on someone?      If you guessed "B", you are correct.  

    Congratulations class, you are ready for Corporate America, to be unfairly treated, harassed and spit at by your insane boss.

    When school officials model extremist behavior -- treating a kid like they had cocaine when all they had was an aspirin,   Suspending them because a steak knife fell out of a box into the bed of the pickup truck when they moved Granny to the nursing home last weekend, screaming at the top of their lungs, calling the cops over a temper tantrum, harassing the transgender kids -- well, when you teach extremism, you get a school full of students who have studied and learned extremism.   Schools are doing an excellent job of teaching extremism, and making themselves a laughingstock in the process.

    Now, this is a Thank You to all of the Excellent Teachers who talk to my children with civility and respect, enforce rules fairly, who are understanding to kids with difficulties, and who do all this while working directly with the Vice Principal Nazi described above.   We know who you are, and you make school life worth living.

    You guys ROCK!!!

  •  I second (third, whatever) those who (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    comment here about it not only shortchanging themselves, in the lack of learning, lack of developing proper job skills, but it's also disrespectful of their classmates.  Good luck with this.  Glad you're not teaching an online course.

  •  I'm not a model student in regard to attendance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I always had to work when I was in college and there were days when I just couldn't juggle both perfectly.

    I felt if I could do the coursework, pass the exams and write the papers, that attendance was my problem, not the school's.
    Yes, I'm sure I missed out on some information that I would have liked, but everybody needed to understand that I was doing the best that I could.

    It felt like high school for a college professor to grade on attendance in an upper division course.

    •  In some classes, your attendance is a significant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      part of the coursework. Things that happen in a community can't be replicated through reading or just being smart.

      In a critique or discussion-based course, non-attendance (and the feedback you don't give and don't get) is important.

      •  I had very few courses where there was learning (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annetteboardman, kurt

        in a community, or if there was, it was in a study group or lab outside the classroom.

        I would do a lot differently now. Having cut and paste has allowed me to write coherently and be able to rewrite and rewrite. I was pretty short on those skills in my early twenties, and pretty skilled at avoiding things that were too far out of my comfort level.

  •  I draw when I'm listening (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annetteboardman, kurt

    I understand other people feel I'm being inattentive, but they're incorrect. I retain MORE information if my hands are occupied.

    Same with knitting. I don't knit in a class because I want to take notes, but if I could I'd knit in meetings-- I learned a little in education classes about kinetic learners,  its probably discredited theory by now, but it seemed to match my own experiences.

    •  Multi-tasking (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I fully sympathize.  I know that I always think best when I'm in motion -- which is why I can never teach a class tied to a podium -- I have to be up and walking around.  Which means, on the flip side, that having to sit down and try to think while seated in a lecture hall as a student often just doesn't work well for me. I get fidgety and have to do something else, like doodle or check my e-mail.  This actually helps me focus better, paradoxical as that may seem.

  •  I also understand the "I paid for this" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annetteboardman, kurt

    mentality. It doesn't seem appropriate for your classes, but I had enough experience with professors who seemed to think they could waste my time with discussions of football during study or reading segments in class. I saw plenty of good-ol-boy teaching, where the guys got the extra instruction if they buddied up with the teacher.

    If I could, I dropped the class and took it from another instructor. I couldn't get around one guy in my major, and so I petitioned and got my major re-written to include different, substitute course work where I actually learned something. I regretted that I couldn't get the class that had been promised in the course description, but I intended to get the education I paid for.

  •  I was a jerk in summer math class (0+ / 0-)

    I had tried to get a statistics course to meet the math requirement for my Bachelor of Fine Art degree. They wouldn't do it, but they would accept algebra.

    So, I took a summer school algebra class. It had the same material I'd learned in junior high. I never went to class, I turned in the exams and I got a C. Didn't bother me a bit, as it was a lame requirement to begin with. Well, actually, it did bother me that I had to pay tuition for a course that wasn't college level, when I couldn't afford both it and the course I wanted. The statistics would have been very useful for my graphic design major.

  •  Classroom Etiquette (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aaron007, kurt

    I tell my students at the beginning of the class that I have only one rule:  don't disrupt the class.  I honestly don't care if they're sitting in the back playing with their i-phone, as long as they're not doing so in a manner that disrupts the serious students --- I'm not their babysitter.  They're adults and they have to make choices.  Of course, I also make it very clear if they choose to not pay attention in class that they undoubtedly will do very poorly --- but again, that's their choice.  

    I try to emphasize to my students over and over again that I can't teach them anything, I can't force them to do anything, I can't cram knowledge into their heads -- that they will only learn if they make a CHOICE to learn -- if they make the effort themselves.  Yeah, sometimes I have to treat a student like a wayward child because they're making it difficult for other people to learn -- but I believe that if we want students to act like responsible, engaged adults, we need to give them the freedom to choose.

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