Fall semester classes at Houston Baptist University began this week. I asked faculty and staff if they had any pointers to give at the start of the year pertaining to classroom etiquette and courtesies.
Dr. Curtis Henderson’s advice on the topic sums the answers up perfectly: “As Jesus stated in Matthew 22, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ When you treat fellow students (and professors) the way you want to be treated, many of the details of etiquette and courtesy will take care of themselves.”
I’ve listed some helpful, practical advice that HBU professors gave on classroom etiquette and courtesies. Take this advice to heart and practice it so that you get the most out of your college education.
Put your phone away.
Nearly every professor who answered this survey warned students not to use their phones in class. Take note of this warning, and be respectful.
Using your phone in class, even when permitted, always makes you look bad. – Dr. Micah Snell, School of Humanities
The obvious: turn your phone off. It is a distraction to your classmates as well as yourself. It makes a good impression if you show you can focus on something else for an hour, or an hour and a half, and a poor impression if you cannot. – Dr. Jerry Walls, School of Humanities
Sit up front.
In the classroom, sit in the first two rows and engage in the course. – Dr. Jackie Horn, College of Science and Mathematics
Sit in the front of the classroom – it will help you stay attentive and your professors will make note of your eagerness to learn. This will give off a great impression. – Dr. Meredith O’Hara, College of Science and Mathematics
If at all possible, sit towards the front of the classroom, and introduce yourself to your professor and those around you. – Dr. Katie Alaniz, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Be on time and stay the entire class.
Show up on time. If you are going to be late, don’t walk in with food or a drink. It gives the impression that you were delayed while you were getting your snack and makes it seem like class isn’t a priority for you. If you are late, apologize to the professor at the end of class and briefly explain why it happened. The professor will appreciate the courtesy and professionalism. Just don’t be late again, because then it looks like you can’t get your act together. – Dr. Chris Hammons, School of Humanities
Arrive on-time to class. If you must be late, let the professor know before class and sneak in quietly. When missing class, never email the professor and ask if you missed anything important. They definitely think whatever they went over was important or they wouldn’t have addressed it in class. Instead, ask a classmate for the notes and review any areas of confusion with your professor. – Samantha Bottoms, Academic Success Center
Don’t come late to class and climb over other students to get your favorite seat. Go to the bathroom before you come to class. Don’t get up in the middle of class to go to the bathroom. You are disturbing the learning environment and your fellow students. – Dr. Doris Warren, College of Science and Mathematics
Communicate with your professors professionally.
Offer proper respect to your professors. Address them by Dr. Last Name or Professor Last Name unless otherwise specified. When emailing, write formally and give the professor your name and course section. Thank them for their time, and sign your full name. – Samantha Bottoms
If you have a disagreement with a professor, talk to them face-to-face and be respectful if you want to be respected. – Dr. Brenda Whaley, College of Science and Mathematics
When you email your professor, think of it as more like a formal business letter than a text message to a friend: your professor will appreciate the respect you’ve shown. Also, while you may receive and respond to school-related email on your phone, not all of your professors do, so don’t assume that a slow response means that they are intentionally ignoring you. – Dr. David Grubbs, School of Humanities
Faculty are happy to answer questions, but most of the information for the course should be in the syllabus so make sure to look it over before asking any questions. – Dr. Lisa Ellis, College of Science and Mathematics
Have a good attitude and be polite.
Be open to students’ opinions/ideas different from yours. Be nice to others. – Dr. Lesli Fridge, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Avoid passive aggressive behaviors such as loud sighing, eye rolling, and inaudible grumbling, since those never work. – Dr. Brenda Whaley
Always have a good attitude with your professors and classmates. It is important that you become a team member in every aspect. – Dr. Miguel Estrada, School of Humanities
I treat my students with respect and expect them to do the same for me and for their peers. Tardiness is not respectful of one’s peers. Cynical or sarcastic comments are not appreciated either. – Dr. Susan Priest, School of Nursing and Allied Health
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Come prepared and participate.
Ask and answer questions. The more that you participate in the classroom, the more that you learn from the class time. Show your teachers and your peers that you are interested in this topic and that you want to be part of the learning process. – Dr. Jackie Horn
Pay attention to the expectations your professor has for the class environment. Don’t talk while the professor is talking or when one of your classmates has the floor. Ask relevant questions. – Dr. Vickey Giles, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
In class, be an active learner. Ask questions and make comments. If you tend to be shy, try to change at least a little. There will be times in life when your live voice (not your written words) will be the only way you can contribute what the group needs to receive from you. If you are talkative, direct your energies to class discussion rather than chats with classmates while the instructor or another student has the floor. – Dr. Anthony Joseph, School of Humanities
Do everything possible to fully engage in each class session, thinking about how the material you’re learning might apply to your future professional and personal life. You will not regret the time and attention you devoted to your class sessions. Your professors have devoted hours to planning them, and there are so many wonderful things to learn. Seek out memorable insights that will serve you well long after your time at HBU is through! – Dr. Katie Alaniz
Consider your classmates.
Monitor your “air time.” Each person in the class needs to have the opportunity to be heard—and you’ll probably learn something from their input. Consider ways you can help others in their quest to be academically successful (Examples: offering resources you found that would help them complete an upcoming assignment or inviting them to a study group session). – Dr. Kaye Busiek, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
You’re in school to advance yourself. Perk up, speak up, and be part of the learning process. Don’t overdo it though and monopolize the classroom. – Dr. Susan Priest
Ask yourself: what kind of impression do I want to make?
Remember that everything you do in class causes people to make impressions of you. If you sit in class and never take notes – it might demonstrate you don’t care; if you are always on a phone texting – it might mean you have more important things to do. If you are actively participating in class, it shows you are trying to understand the course content. You are constantly building an impression of you to other people. Be sure it is the impression you want to be making. – Dr. Dawn Wilson, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Good luck in your courses! Next week, I’ll share the advice our faculty and staff have for student-athletes.