The first day of any class is a bit nerve-wracking. You find out who is in your class, what the professor expects and if attendance is mandatory. However, what you might not realize is that classroom etiquette is just as important on the first day of class. So what is A+ classroom etiquette? Great question, but unfortunately there is no official, written rulebook for the subject.
However, there are a few tendencies that I have noticed when in a classroom environment, and the trends are prevalent in all classes, To ensure that you aren’t that one kid loudly chewing on chips or having your coat taking up two seats, check out these seven unwritten classroom etiquette rules.
1. The Unassigned-Assigned Seat
It seems that the seat you choose on the first day of class becomes your de facto seat for the remainder of the semester. Most students prefer to mark their territory and rarely sway from it. It only takes one simple mix-up in the unassigned-assigned seat rotation to disrupt the entire classroom dynamic, creating a domino effect relatable to musical chairs where everyone is scrambling to find a seat in a jammed class. I may have exaggerated it a bit, but the unassigned assigned seat is no joke.
2. The One Seat Over Method
Anytime you enter a classroom for the first time, it’s likely you will not be close buddies with everyone; therefore, most people will keep one seat in between them and the next person. There’s nothing wrong with sitting next to a random person, but by leaving a seat between you two, you will likely avoid the awkward elbow or coffee spill on their desk. In addition, your phone, coffee, notes and laptop can all be placed conveniently on the desk splitting you and the next person.
3. Don’t Block Views
In the case of others and maybe yourself, blocking views for someone behind you can be quite agitating. Although you may not hear their thoughts, I can promise you they aren’t pretty, as constantly hindering someone’s views during a PowerPoint presentation not only stretches their imagination, but their body as well. If “blocking views” applies to you, I suggest you chose your seat wisely on the first day of class; being in the middle will likely block some views, but sitting on the edges will not.
4. Be Aware Of Personal Space
If you have a class in a large spacious auditorium, then props to you, as the experience is much more appealing. But in reality, classes are cramped, and sometimes small rooms and lecture halls keep the heat on until May. If you find yourself cramped in a hot, jam-packed lecture hall, make sure to be aware of others’ space and not put your stuff all over the place.
This includes: keeping your backpack close by so others can squeeze into the row, keeping your water bottle on your own desk and finally, not throwing your hoodie on the back of someone else’s seat because it was “chilly in the morning, but warm in the afternoon.” I suggest being mindful of other people’s space and the fact that they have belongings too.
5. Keep Food And Beverages On The DL
One of the great benefits of college classrooms is the freedom to bring food and beverages. In the event that your class takes place right around normal lunch or dinner time, eating or drinking during class is totally acceptable. However, loud crunching sounds and the spreading of crumbs can be quite annoying, so it’s important to keep the eating distraction-free. With beverages, the worst thing that can happen is a spill or leak, so be sure to check your caps or put a napkin around a beverage that could leak.
6. Limit Distractions To Others (And Yourself)
Handwritten note-taking is as old-fashioned as driving a horse carriage to work, and I represent the minimal percentage of students who are taking hand-written notes in a sea of laptops. Though laptops are an efficient method for looking up questions during lectures or making Google Docs, laptops can lead to mind-wandering and loads of distractions for your classmates.
For instance, the student in front of you may be streaming a game live or scrolling through their Facebook feed, which is completely your decision, but is extremely distracting to you while you attempt to pay attention. Visual distractions can interrupt learning, especially if they have a bright screen and a little noise.
Again, surfing the web is your own choice, but be mindful to others to display the best classroom etiquette and make sure not to cause any distractions with your screen. This unwritten rule might apply to yourself as well, as you can only get the best out of a lecture if you are not distracted too.
7. The Art Of Using Your Phone
Using your phone in class is not the easiest thing to do. There are a lot of obstacles to using your phone, plus professors are very firm about cell phone policies during class. To avoid a friendly shoutout from the professor and inevitable stares (kind of like in elementary school when someone got in trouble), use your phone maybe just to send an important text.
I am not saying you should use your phone in class, but if the stars align, and you happen to do so, keeping it private is the best way. All in all, I am just going to recommend your phone stay in your pocket on mute because it’s even more awkward when a phone rings in class and the entire ringtone ends up playing.
In general, unwritten classroom etiquette is an evolving phenomenon, and my experiences may soon become as old-fashioned as my note taking skills, so make sure to keep note in your laptop.