Three Easy Rules for Proper Classroom Etiquette

By The Beacon | March 6, 2014 1:40am

Lydia Laythe |

Professors are people too. It has become apparent to me that not everyone recognizes this fact. So for the students who can’t grasp the concept of being respectful during class, I’m going to give you a quick lesson in how to behave like decent human beings. I call it:

Lydia’s 3 Easy Rules for Proper Classroom Etiquette

Rule 1: Don’t come to class if you’re going to fall asleep.

Imagine if you were trying to tell your friend an exciting story and they were falling asleep. Imagine you spend thousands of dollars and a lifetime career on that story. That’s exactly what a professor is doing when they lecture, and you’re falling asleep. If for no other reason, don’t fall asleep because it’s disrespectful. Your professor is just trying to tell you about something they find really interesting.

If I see another student sitting in class snoring during a lecture, I’m going to pick them up and throw them off The Bluff. Welcome to college, everyone, where YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE HERE. You chose to go to college. So why, if you’re choosing to be here, are you sleeping in class? If you’re too tired to stay awake, don’t come. And for anyone that says, “Well, I try to stay awake”: Try harder. Suck it up and find a way to stay awake.

Rule 2: Don’t be a zombie.

Again, imagine you’re telling a story and instead of nodding, smiling, reacting to your story, your friend just sits there expressionless. Imagine you really love the topic you’re talking about, and your friend’s eyes are half-open, they’re looking out the window, or they’re staring at the table. I would venture to guess we would all just stop talking to our friends, maybe punch them in the arm and walk away. I’m sure there are plenty of professors that’ve wanted to do that to a few students.

Despite what we’ve come to believe is acceptable, lectures aren’t one-sided activities we can passively participate in. A lecture is like any conversation – it requires some interaction. Yes, you may not be able to verbally respond to every point the professor makes, but you can at least be polite and respectful and show you’re listening. Listening to lectures requires active participation: nodding and smiling when you understand, or furrowing your brow if you don’t. Again, out of sheer respect for the humanity of your professors, please at least pretend to listen.

Rule 3:  Don’t pack up early.

This is probably the most annoying habit I have witnessed in classrooms. At the end of the lecture, as the professor is wrapping up and the clock is counting down 30 seconds to freedom, students begin to pack up their belongings. The shuffling of papers and notebooks and laptops drowns out the professors last words, and students don’t even care.

I was sitting in a class once when this happened, and it nearly broke my heart. I watched the professor look helplessly around the room to find just one attentive face. He paused and tried to finish his thoughts, but pursed his lips, sighed and gave up. He couldn’t even finish his lecture. I felt so bad for that him, and for all professors who have been in similar situations.

They spend their time reading and crafting interesting lectures and trying to find new ways to engage students – and it’s not easy. They love what they do, so to have students disregard their hard work, ignore them, and be so disrespectful – it’s disappointing to say the least.

So let me make this final plea: Please remember that your professors are people too. They deserve at least a small acknowledgement of their human dignity. Don’t ignore them. Don’t shut them out. Don’t disregard them. Please be kind to your professors – they are someone’s father, mother, husband, wife, or friend.

Lydia Laythe is a sophomore social work major. She can be reached at For more etiquette columns from Laythe, see 5 easy rules for mealtime etiquette and Dance club etiquette.