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Do’s and don’ts during in-person classes

After a long year of asynchronous and zoom classes, attending class in person has made me all the more sensitive to the seemingly extreme lack of classroom etiquette university-goers possess. I will excuse this behavior because of COVID. For the past year, students have shown up to zoom class in bed and wearing pajamas. However, when in person, there is a clear set of manners one should follow. Here are the do’s and don’ts when going to class in person. 

1. Don’t pack up your things unless the professor finishes speaking.

A common trend students love to follow is packing their backpacks the second the class is supposed to finish. It’s made worse by the sound. When class finishes, students make an active effort to try to pack their things as loud as possible. Every paper seems to rustle at maximum volume. I know for a fact that one minute of overtime won’t kill anyone. Packing up before the professor finishes talking, is 1) disrespectful to the professor and your fellow attentive classmates 2) detrimental to your own understanding, as the professor could relay crucial information at this time and 3) damaging to your own reputation as an intelligent and appreciative college student. 

2. Don’t fall asleep in class.

Falling asleep in class is accidental for many. I understand that. However, falling asleep during class—particularly in a small class—is the worst thing you can do. Many times, professors will assume your lack of focus is because of the quality of their teaching (which it sometimes may be). Peers will be distracted by the drool coming from your mouth. If you find yourself starting to doze off, you should go to the bathroom or drink some water. 

3. Don’t use technology except when note-taking.

I am an outspoken advocate for old fashioned note taking. That said, I can accept students who take notes on their iPads or laptops. The format of zoom classes tempted students to misbehave when it came to using technology during class. In my experience this year, I have not come across one online note-taker that doesn’t text a friend or surf the web during class. While this habit is most detrimental to yourself, it distracts your peers as well. If the guy sitting next to me is dramatically texting his girlfriend, I will be inclined to eavesdrop instead of listening to the lecture. 

4. Don’t contribute to a discussion unless you have something valuable to add.

This rule of etiquette is a bit more obscure than the previous three. In several of my discussion-based classes, students participate not to advance the conversation but to show off some irrelevant piece of information that they know. This cocky tactic not only embarrasses you in front of the professor, but it derails the conversation and discourages other students from speaking. Unless your comment adds to something previously mentioned in discussion or is some brilliant unheard argument, do not share it. 

I use a lot of exaggerated and harsh language when describing these don’ts. Just remember to be respectful when going to in-person classes, and remember that your actions affect more than just yourself. Learning in-person is a privilege, and we should always be grateful for the opportunity.

Lilly Doninger is a member of the class of 2024 at William & Mary from Louisville, Kentucky. She hopes to major in International Relations. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, watching movies, and journaling. Lilly also writes weekly for her personal blog, Ridiculous but Respectable.
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