Taking care of the classroom is not just about standing at the podium giving a lecture or leading a lecture and discussion session with your students. And, it’s not just about grading lots of assignments. Instructors are helping students manage their time, learn material, and offering them opportunities to interact with their peers and the instructor.
Part of the instructor’s responsibility is to maintain the integrity of the classroom, and this might mean a host of things. This means that the instructor provides a clear syllabus that notes the expectations for the class and carefully explains student evaluation. This way the students know exactly what they are assessed on for the class. Another responsibility for the instructor is maintaining a good learning environment for all students. While I’ve blogged previously about emotional labor, codes of conduct, and non-academic misconduct, I do think that this post is different.
The instructor is responsible to all the students to ensure a positive learning environment. The instructor will come to class on time and ready to teach/lead discussion. The instructor will also treat students with respect and encourage learning. In a similar vein, the instructor needs to also ensure that student behavior does not negatively influence other students’ learning or the overall learning environment of the classroom. My syllabus is clear about avoiding multi-tasking, watching videos or the overall misuse of the network per the university guidelines. But, I have now come to realize that I have to add an additional point to my syllabus. Drum roll~ in January my syllabi will now include a sentence about not wearing ear buds or headphones during lecture.
Part of the university experience for students is about the ability to acculturate to department or university norms. Hopefully, these exercises will be useful in the workplace–public speaking skills, writing, critical thinking, and working well with co-workers. A major part of being in an undergraduate program includes working well with others and following the rules, procedures, deadlines, and other expectations regarding student behavior. These norms—be it deadlines for assignments and understanding the importance of managing one’s time or being respectful of one’s peers and instructor are part of the university experience. I certainly do not think it is too much to ask a student to only come to class if they want to do so–especially when roll is not taken.
Likewise, I do think that it’s important for students to not come into class remembering that their instructors hopefully have had ample training and want to see them do well. However, instructors are also professionals who are at work and expect mature behavior. Save the eye rolling, sighing, and raising your voice for your friends and family. Seriously–your instructors are your future job references, mentors, and possible letter writers. People often say that the university isn’t the real world. It is a slice or microcosm of it. It doesn’t get more real than this. So, the next time your instructor asks you to please stop talking during her lecture or when other students are giving a presentation. Pause for a moment and think about your behavior.