What You Should Do During Class

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This blog is alternatively titled Things That I Don't Do During Class and Should. Yesterday's post was all about online class management, so I figured I'd juxtapose that and go in to talk about in person classroom etiquette and things that you should try your hardest to do during class.



1. Ask questions, especially if you don't understand.

When teachers and professors say that there is no such thing as a stupid question, they're not lying. They are there to teach you and assist you in the learning process. If you don't understand their first, or even second explanation, you shouldn't feel scared or ashamed to ask for clarification! That's their job. If asking a question or ten gets you the grade that you want and the answers that you need, then be fearless and ask away! Or if you're a little nervous about asking in front of your classmates, jot down quick reference points about your problem(s) and either speak to your professor after class about your concerns or shoot them an e-mail if talking directly to them doesn't fit into your time parameters or still makes you uncomfortable.

2. Participate and raise your hand

I absolutely dread seeing that participation is 10-20% of your grade (depending on professors and classes). It is my biggest nightmare because I know that I'll be lucky if I get even 1% of those points. I hate raising my hand during class. I most likely know the answer or can contribute my input into a discussion, but I don't want to/can't. Take my word for it though, participating in class discussions pays off. In a few classes, I got brave enough to actively and consistently participate and got stopped in the hallway to commend my participation. In one of my classes, I was actually asked not to raise my hand after the first half of class.

Professors love it. They don't even care if you make a mistake or two or ten. They like to know that you're paying attention and care about the class enough to utilize your knowledge. And I can, for a fact, tell you that nobody else in your class cares that you make a mistake if you happen to do so. In fact, they're probably relieved so that when they answer a question, they won't have to be the fist person who was wrong.

3. Meet or introduce yourself to the professor

This is geared more toward small lectures, not your 300 person lecture hall. Take the time to at least introduce yourself to your professor, whether it is after class or during their office hours. Let them know that you're excited to take their class and can't wait to see how the semester plays out. This puts a name on a roster to a face, puts you on their radar, and is just a nice gesture in general.

4. Don't keep to yourself, make friends

This is easier said than done, I know. I should be taking my own advice on this one! Nothing is worse than not having somebody to sit next to during class to chat with during breaks or before it starts. Partner work becomes a nightmare because you're stuck with randos for the whole semester. And if you don't have a friend in your class, who will you study with? Whose notes will you borrow when you miss/skip class? College becomes all that much better when you at least have an acquaintance in your class. You don't have to be best friends with the girl who sits next to you in math, but at least be friendly with her so you have somebody to chat it out with. Also, don't be shy when you recognize people who are in multiple classes with you.

Last year, my friend and I were in 3 classes in a row together, as well as in the same small group for our first class together. It would have been really silly of us to never bring it up at some point. For about three and a half hours we were in each other's presence, usually only a few rows apart! Seize the day and introduce yourself! What's the worst that will happen?

5. Don't text/tweet/go on Pinterest the entire time

THIS IS MY PET PEEVE. I am guilty of the occasional pinning spree during a math class or texting my friends back during the lull of the lecture. This is not what I'm talking about when I say don't use social media during class. I cannot count the amount of times that I've seen people on their phones the entire duration of class. No notebook, no pen, no textbook in sight. Just their heads down staring at their phone screen. What is the point of even going to class, honestly? You're retaining zero information, you're not paying attention...you are wasting everybody's time, including your own. Phones and laptops can be a nice distraction when there's a serious lull in the lecture or discussion, but don't be that person who can't even tell you one thing that happened during class because they were playing Trivia Crack the entire time. That doesn't count as learning.

What's your best advice for in-class etiquette? 

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