In light of some behaviors which do not meet my approval, I have felt the need to write down some of my own random wisdom for the classroom. Although there are exceptions, most of these things stand out to me as all-the-time-no-no’s for behavior in class:
- Turn cellphones to silent or off, do not let them vibrate or ring. Who do you think you’re fooling? There cannot be anything so important that you have to read every call that you get, calls which seem to come once every 10 minutes. And even if there were such important calls, how often do you get them? If you’re not going to answer it, don’t let it vibrate. Just wait and read who called after you get out of class. The vibrate sound is somehow even worse than a ringtone. A vibrate sounds just like the inner brain trembling you get when you look at something way too bright, a ringtone is usually catchy.
- Speak in your “classroom voice”, do not yell in class. We can all hear you and usually you’re the loudest one in class even when you try to be quiet. Just try harder, realize your yelling, notice we don’t need you to yell and go ahead and use your “classroom voice.”
- Respect the time and patience of your teacher and peers, do not monopolize conversations in the classroom or the answering of teachers’ questions. Though it is nice you are getting smarter, that’s what we are trying to do too. Some of us learn more quietly than others. The quiet learners are patient with the loud learners, so you loud learners should go ahead and be quieter for their sake too. It’s not going to hurt and hey, you’ll probably learn something from the people who you usually take the time away from.
- Allow time for other students to think their thoughts, don’t answer questions early. Speed is a admirable characteristic in learning, but some people are slowed down when someone interrupts their thoughts. Again, be thoughtful of others. We know you like to learn by talking and shouting things out, and we’ll let you do it some of the time. Just let us enjoy you not doing it all of the time.
- Eat before or after class, do not eat during class. You can’t be that busy, please, come on. Class time is not some kind of break your day where you can balance your checkbook, check your voicemails and eat your dinner. If you need a snack because you will go into a diabetic coma, we understand. But even then, do not eat anything loud for god’s sake. What’s loud? Potato chips, fritos, doritos, carrots, pop rocks, popcorn and bubble gum if you can’t keep your mouth shut. Just remember there are other people around you who aren’t eating, why?
- Do not try to relate concepts to something far fetched and completely unreasonable. If there is a direct parallel, and it seems like it might be helpful for the class to hear it, go ahead and share it. Otherwise keep it to yourself, share it with the teacher after class, write it down, or talk to your mom about it on the cellphone after class. Don’t assume we want to know that the formula for gravitational force looks a lot like some statistics equation related to the gross national product. It may, but we don’t care.
- Suppress the urge to let everyone know when you "get something." Why isn’t anyone else saying it? Because it would be much harder to get through any class if everyone yelled “I get it!” after every sixty second concept. We all know this, so we don’t say anything when we get it. If we don’t “get it” we ask about it after class. If it seems like a bunch of us don’t “get it” we ask about it during class.
- Come to class early, not late. Again, we are all early and why are we waiting on you, every class? Be considerate and remember when and why we are all coming together.
- Pack up to leave class late, not early. You were five minutes late for class, if anything, you should stay five minutes after all of us leave. You disrupt everyone else at the end of class by shuffling all your loud stuff together, cramming it all into your backpack and then sitting there with your arms crossed obviously taking nothing else in for the remainder of your time in your seat. Sit down, wait until it is clear that class is over, then pack up and leave after the teacher has clearly finished. It’s courteous if nothing else.
- It’s okay to laugh in class, but not in excess. Do not laugh so loudly that people don’t know what’s going, do not laugh to yourself looking for approval or in order to brown-nose a teacher by laughing at every joke they tell. No one is laughing with you, not because you “got it” and no one else did, but precisely because you didn’t.
Most of these concepts are simple, some were taught in kindergarten. Every one of them has as its principle the idea that we should think about others and treat that as we would like to be treated. Violations of these behaviors are often the result of short-sighted and selfish thinking and they can be cured with an exactly opposite perspective. It we think about things long-range and consider our actions as affecting others, we can begin to see better alternatives. Be considerate when you laugh, wait to pack your things, don’t come in late to class, think about whether a concept is unclear to most of the class or just you, consider your words and their impact on your peers and teacher, don’t bring things to class which distract your fellow students, respect the volume, tone and speed of the people around you and most of all remember we aren’t in class just to learn about some subject, we are learning about ourselves and our place together in a community. Become part of that by better understand yourself and by caring about and understanding others.