Instructor McFarland’s Rules of Classroom (N)etiquette

Borrowed from Dr. Snaith


You are in college to perform well, meet and go beyond the minimum expectations your professors set, and exhibit the behavior that workplace professionals expect of their colleagues.  Learning to be a professional adult is a major outcome of any university education.


Therefore, here are basic rules of etiquette and “netiquette” that I expect us all to observe:

1.    Arrive On Time to Class, and Stay There Until the End of the Period

If you are unavoidably late, please enter the classroom as silently as you can.  Your late arrival will nevertheless be distracting.  I will administratively withdraw students who are chronically late.  Do not leave and return mid-class—think ahead, take care of your physical needs, and then dedicate our 75 minutes solely to our scholarly pursuit. 

2.   Bring the Materials You Need

You should bring whatever you need to take good notes and to do class work:  paper, journal, notebooks, pens, pencils, etc.  Borrowing from the professor or your classmates is unprofessional and sloppy.

3.    Turn Off Cell Phones

Silence and stow your cell phone before class.

4.    Do Not Use Your Laptop in Our Classroom

I will ask students violating this rule to leave class and count them absent for the day. The screens, the keyboard clicking, and the lure of net-surfing are all too distracting, so I allow hand-written note-taking ONLY. 

5.    Be Attentive and Fully Present in Class

It is completely unacceptable and unprofessional to sleep in class, eat in class, annoy others, take part in side-conservations, criticize a fellow student in class, gossip, walk out of class, or do assignments for another class while we’re in session. 


We’re here to:

--luxuriate in the deep questions we’ll be exploring this semester, and I encourage you to feel free to pose as many of your own as you’d like.

--experience the exhilaration both of finding like-minded classmates and speakers, and to engage in honest, respectful discourse with those with whom you disagree. 

--grapple with disagreement in an adult, open-minded, actively-listening way.  Participate as much as possible in our spirited, inquiring class discussions.


Concerning E-Mails:   How Not to Communicate with Your Professors



Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2010, 11:42 A.M.


Subject: hey


hey, sorry i missed class today . . . i had a little too much fun last nite had a rough time waking up;) can you tell me what i missed and email me your teaching notes ASAP? thx.



Effective e-mails are a valuable educational tool; they allow college students to ask questions outside of class and let professors provide instant feedback, making instructors more accessible than ever before.  However, students (and professors, too) need to make sure their e-communications are professional and appropriate.


Consider the ways that the above e-mail is unsuccessful:



An e-mail to your professor isn't like posting something on your friend's FaceBook wall; different communication contexts carry different expectations. Your message should be formal. It should open with a salutation ("Dear Instructor McFarland") and close with a proper signature ("Best, Kate" or "Thanks in advance, Jacob"). The rules of Academic English grammar, spelling, and capitalization all apply. There should be a clear subject line that should be appropriate to the content of the e-mail (otherwise, your professor may reject your e-mail as spam).



This e-mail is wholly inappropriate for student-professor correspondence. There's a half-hearted attempt at an apology and a thinly veiled reference to being hung-over on the day of class. Very unimpressive.  Here, as with any communication, it's important to analyze your audience. There are some things you can say to your friends that you shouldn't say to your professor. Review your draft before you send it with an eye to context-appropriate content!



Recipients of poor grades often send nasty protests; absent students demand teaching notes; and many students send multiple e-mails a day, expecting their professors to be available around the clock. This is partly because the impersonality of e-mail and social networking sites makes it easier for anyone to act rudely; don’t make demands via e-mail that you wouldn't make in face-to-face interactions.


Some guidelines: 

• Refer to your course syllabus, assignment sheets, or notes posted on a Web site; you may find that you already have what you need.

• If you skipped class, don't ask your professor what you missed; ask your classmates!