Classroom etiquette becomes topic of discussion

It’s not unusual for a student to be on their phone while in class.
Photo Submitted by Arianna Reamey

Classroom etiquette has become a distant memory in some Florida A&M University classrooms.

Respect for professors has decreased while cell phone use in the classroom has increased. Rules like raising your hand, showing up on time for class, and staying off your cell phone is far from common across campus.

“I feel like since we pay for the classes we should be able to use our phones during classes. If the students who use their phone choose to distract themselves that’s on them,” said first year student Patrice Joseph. “At the end of the day the professors are getting paid regardless.”

Such rules in the classroom were enforced to increase the productivity of class time and to not distract from other students’ learning. Educators fear that the lack of classroom etiquette will transfer over to their work environment in their future careers.

Terrance Folmar, a Spanish Instructor at FAMU, has noticed a change in classroom behavior and is making an effort to be the solution to the problem. He believes that enforcing “excellence with caring” can better help understand the needs of students in order to help them succeed.

“I’ve observed a direct correlation between student maturity, conduct and performance in a class. I have also noticed that in a class in which the students conduct themselves with a greater degree of maturity it creates an atmosphere that is beneficial to all students,” said Folmar.

Professors have not been the only ones to spot the issue. Students at the university report that the lack of classroom etiquette has begun to disrupt their learning.

“I find it disruptive and to be honest annoying when students are having side conversations while the teacher is talking. An institution for higher learning is no place for that behavior,” said fourth-year student Jalen Williams.

Lamar Garnes, an associate professor of English, has a different take on classroom behavior. “I like classes that are loud. It means I have something to work with,” Garnes said.

He says he likes to be challenged in class because he is interested in hearing his students’ voices. “It builds mutual respect. We’re all adults, if we treat each other respectfully then things tend to go more smoothly,” said Garnes.

Garnes said that he often thinks back to his undergrad experience to see how he should approach his classes. “I don’t like to stand upon students when instructing because ultimately I would like to create an environment where we learn from one another,” said Garnes.