Classroom Etiquette/ Both Sides of The Fence

I couldn’t believe the response I received on my Quilt Show Etiquette post, so I figured I’d roll with it and end the week with a post on Teacher and Student Classroom Etiquette.  Notice I am being unbiased and am exploring BOTH sides of classroom etiquette.  So let’s take a look shall we?

Etiquette:  It was a toss of the coin which to discuss first, obviously Teacher Etiquette won or lost (however you want to look at it).  The instructor has obligations to his/her students, these individuals paid to be in their presences.  I am a huge believer of giving my pupils what they have signed up for, and giving them their money’s worth.  That being said we, as teachers, need to be mindful of the following:

  Arrive EARLY!  Yes, make sure to arrive with more than enough time to organize and prepare your class for what you will be teaching.  No student wants to enter a class that they have spent money on to wait patiently for the first 30 minutes while the instructor finishes arranging class materials etc.

Be Prepared!  Do you have enough materials for all your students?  Are you ready to discuss the topic you are going to present to the class? There is nothing worse than sitting before a teacher that is unorganized, they obviously haven’t worked through the class agenda or how each aspect of what they are sharing will transition into one another.  In a nutshell it’s a students nightmare! You have lost them at “Ah Good Morning, Give Me Just a Second”.

       Turn Off Your Cell Phone!  There is no need for your phone to beep with a text message, or ring during your lecture or hands on demonstration.  No student should wait while you pause momentarily to glance at the screen of your mobile device to view a text from your husband that inquires “When will you be home?”  That is simply rude!

   Answer Questions from your students.  Again, these lovely people are spending their morning, afternoon or entire day with you.  They are there to learn, and with any education we all learn differently.  Some of us need to hear information more than once, others of us are filled with curiosity and love the word “Why”.  Finally there are a  few that just like to hear themselves talk.  Regardless of the reason, there is no such thing as a stupid question.  If you want your class to gain confidence and understanding let them ask away.

  Provide Breaks Throughout Your Class.  Teachers need to refuel, use the restroom and just take a breather.  Implement a couple breaks throughout your class.  Trust me no one wants to hear you drone on and on for 4- 6 hours (no matter how entertaining you may be) without the chance to step away for a minute or two.  You will find your students more productive and more relaxed if they are given a few minutes throughout their session to sit back and reflect on what is being taught.  By the way this is a great opportunity to reply to that distracting text of when you could be expected home!

Make Learning Fun!  No student has the desire to sit for 4 to 6 hours bored out of their mind, breaks can only provide so much relief.  Nor do they want to pay for boredom.  It’s a good idea to create an environment that allows your class to feel relaxed.   Providing a little humor makes the day for them and you pass by much faster.  So don’t get so wrapped up in being so professional that you appear stiff and uncomfortable, it’s a day of educating others on what you LOVE to do…so show them some love and let loose a little.

Time to Turn the Tables

 Etiquette:  Yes, educators are thrilled that you have chosen to spend your time with them and they look forward to enlightening you. Hopefully you will be exiting their class wearing a smile of satisfaction and eager to register for one of their other classes. However, there are a few things we instructors would like you to keep in mind, and they are:

Don’t be Late!  Please arrive a few minutes early.  It is not fair to the rest of the students to watch the instructor stop her class in order to get a tardy pupil settled for what they missed.  If you want to see several eyes roll, and heavy sighs then show up late and let the “late show” begin.

  Turn Off Your Phone Please.  Your fellow student and teacher do not want to try and talk or listen over a ringing cell phone, no matter how cute your ringtone may sound.  Place it in your bag, or pocket until break time, trust me there is voicemail on mobile devices for a reason.  Besides, don’t you want to get the most out of your class, after all you’ve paid to be sitting in that chair.

   If You Have a Question…Ask!  Rather than sit and chat with the person next to you on what is being taught… speak up. Who is the best person to ask, definitely not the person to your left or right…the teacher! In addition, it is distracting to the teacher, who is talking, to view students talking amongst each other while they are in the process lecturing or demonstrating.  If there is a concept you don’t quite understand you have the right to gain a better insight on what has been shared.  You should never leave a class confused or feeling lost on the topic.  Raise that hand high!

  Please Keep the Sickies at Home.  Sorry, but teachers AND students have NO desire to be exposed to the germs that will invade everyone’s work area by someone hacking with a cough or some other illness that should have kept them at home.  If you insist on attending the class you put yourself at risk for death stares and unkind mumbling from those surrounding you.  And trust me the instructor will not send sympathy smiles your way.

  It’s Okay to get Outside Your Comfort Zone.  The last and most important aspect of student etiquette is encouraging ALL students to step outside their comfort zone! If the instructor has done their job and given you something to giggle about and has urged you to relax then please do so! Trying to educate a group of students that won’t let go and feel free to embrace all that is presented before them makes for a difficult 4-6 hours. You are in a “no-judgement” zone (if you don’t think you are, slip out the door fast) during your time as a student.  Make the most of every moment, this is your chance to soak up all you can on that new technique, or concept. But soak it up with a clear understanding that learning should be fun and positive; especially when you’re stepping outside your comfort zone!

I am sure there are many other tips I could have elaborated on, like please don’t hate the teacher for the temperature of the room (I realize no one likes a classroom that’s 85  degrees); but I thought I’d just share a few.  Do you have a tip to give to either students or teachers?  I’m sure I’ll hear from some of you!

19 thoughts on “Classroom Etiquette/ Both Sides of The Fence

  1. For students, remember that everyone in the class has paid to learn from the instructor so don’t monopolize them. They are not in the class to do your project for you. Teacher hogs make my teeth grind.

  2. Love this … for both sides of the fense!!

    I use to each art and sewing classes. Most things I can get passed on either side. However… if stuck in a room all day with a sick person, (student or teacher), I’m going to spend the majority of my time being paranoid as I usually end up with what ever the catching malady is. (Save my $$ and emburse my co-pay!) But really… who would want to be stuck in a room breathing an ill person’s germs.
    I know that’s not how most operate… and I know you wouldn’t think of it Lisa… hugs to you!
    Just really want to stress that point for others… not all immune systems are created equal.
    Being courteous to all is the ticket… then we can truly enjoy our time xo

  3. Students:
    Make sure your machine is in good working order, have your manual and know how to work your machine.
    Also check before you leave the house if you have everything you need.
    Don’t try to be a teacher’s pet, and please we don”t want hear All. Your. Stories. (We, meaning the rest of the students)

    Don’t act like a know-it-all and try to teach. We paid for the teacher, not you.

    Don’t be a table hog.

    Be respectful of others in all aspects.

  4. I agree with all of those. As a FMQ teacher, my biggest bug bear has always been the student’s machine that doesn’t work properly or they’re using the wrong bobbins for that machine and you spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s wrong with the machine. I’d end up taking my spare machine to class so the person could use it. The other thing I have found difficult is the amount of people who don’t come to every class or take time out from the class to have a lunch with a friend. You can’t teach what they’ve missed and teach the rest of the class at the same time.

    I have only taken six classes in my quilting life and the most irritating thing was sharing a (fold up) table with someone else when you’re machine quilting and the table was vibrating from the other person’s machine speed. I found it interesting she only had one speed! I couldn’t quilt at all during class. It’s nothing you can prepare for and you can’t choose another place if the class is full.

    It’s interesting how conscious you are of your behaviour in class (even though you’re an angel) when you, as a teacher (normally) becomes the student.

    Despite issues that crop up during class, it’s so much fun to teach and mould others in your image!

  5. I haven’t taken many classes, but one I did stands out. I know you (generally meaning teacher) also traveled to the show with very little sleep, well so did us students. I don’t want to hear about wat city were just coming and the airport, your travel experience, etc.for a half hour while you set up during our class time. Once she was settled the class was great, but …

  6. Please do not spray baste your quilt sample sandwiches in a room full of people and never, ever close to somebody else’s machine. I have had to leave a class due to this as I became ill from the smell but took half a spray can home distributed all over my machine. The teacher could see nothing wrong with using the spray inside in the classroom when approached.

  7. Teachers, your words matter! One thing said wrong can affect someone for years to come. Never happened to me but i am on a novice Facebook group where we have to try to undo the self doubts inflicted by a teacher.

  8. Late to the party but would like to add something from both sides of the aisle– If a student is creative such that they don’t/won’t slavishly follow the provided pattern, be prepared as a teacher to deal, nicely, with the problems they encounter. Let them know you will help them AFTER you help everyone else in class that is following the provided pattern.

    As a student who just can not slavishly follow the provided pattern, go for it. If you encounter problems that are beyond you, better in a class where you can get help, even if you have to wait. Do so quietly.

    I have quietly walked out of classes when a teacher says something to the effect “I will teach you the CORRECT way to do (fill in the blank).” I have already wasted my money, I don’t have to waste my time because I have come to realize, that teacher doesn’t know any other way, they are unable to teach it any other way or even worse, have not tried different ways just to research curiosity.

    BTW, some of the best, hands down, teachers I have had where mediocre in execution but were really good at teaching you how to do it and be better than they in execution.

    Teaching is about sharing knowledge and helping someone move along their journey. Learning is about taking all the bits and pieces shared putting them together to work for you along your journey.

    • “I will teach you the CORRECT way to do (fill in the blank).”

      Oh boy….YES! Anyone who thinks there is only one way to do something shouldn’t be teaching. Yes, I want to learn your way (it’s why I signed up) however, what works for you may not work for me (I have learning disabilities that I have very successfully learned to deal with as evidenced by advanced degrees. I know how I learn. I will promise to not disrupt the rest of the class if you promise to not try to shame me into doing things “the correct way.” A very special teacher once smiled at me, shook his head as he chuckled at my rather odd approach to what he was teaching and said “whatever works for you is ok with me. Holler if you need anything.” Sadly he has long since retired and I only got to take one class with him.

      Lisa, YOU are an amazing teacher. Patient and kind as well as skilled and creative. Thank you.

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