Respect in the Classroom

So here we are at the end of February… For the most part, we are back into the swing of things. For some of us, the first exam is quickly approaching and for others we are finally past it. Every new semester comes with its own excitement and curiosity… sometimes even anxiety.

When each of us starts a new class, whether it’s your first semester at GCC, or at any college ever or you have been going for 50 years, we have to learn the new professor. How will they grade? Will they give busy work assignments? Will we have a study guide? How hard is the exam going to be? Some of those get answered on the first day when the instructor discusses the syllabus. However, others, and a hundred different questions, stay unanswered well into the semester.

The main cause of anxiety for me in a new class is the environment. Whether or not I enjoy a class has to do with three main components: the subject matter; the instructor and the classroom environment. Now in part, the instructor plays a role in the environment as well. But so do we. As students, we determine how interactive the class is. We also determine the amount of time spent on each concept based on our questions, feedback and understanding. However, the biggest part of the environment to me is the level of respect shown by all parties.

Respect is something that needs to go both ways in a classroom, especially at the college level. How can we be expected to learn from someone who doesn’t respect us? On the flip side, how can we expect someone to teach us if we don’t respect them? Respect can be shown in a myriad of ways. One way I find the most common way to demonstrate respect in a classroom setting, and easy to measure, is punctuality and attendance. I expect the instructor to be there on-time (preferably early actually) and I will be there on-time. Now, that’s not to say that once or twice over the course of the semester a student or the instructor won’t be a few minutes late or even have to be absent. But, it shouldn’t be the ‘norm’. In order to succeed, attendance is important.

Now, I know every instructor says attendance is important in his or her class, but I honestly think it is important in every class. To be a successful student you also have to show that respect – not only to the instructor but also to your fellow students. The classroom environment is very important and can highly impact your learning. To do well in any class, I believe you must be there and actively listening, for each class period.

How do you judge a good classroom environment? What can you do in your classes to improve the current environment for you and the other students?

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