About two or three years ago it seemed that the most requested topic for faculty programming was classroom management. All we had to do was schedule an event with the words, management, incivility, or millennial in the title and it was standing room only. As styles fade, so do topics, and this was no exception. However, much to my surprise, this topic seems to be back in “fashion”, but with a twist – a rather serious twist. Now it seems, that it isn’t simply about that student snoozing in class or texting under the desk, it is also about true incivility, and, in some cases, true behavior problems. Faculty are being faced with students who, due to legitimate medical conditions, are struggling with how to interact appropriately in the college classroom. This is, of course, in addition, to the traditional, occasional, rude, inappropriate, and disruptive student. It is a difficult position to find oneself in. How does one differentiate between the student who simply needs a swift, decisive “reality check”, and one that is truly adrift? I wish I had a glib and easy answer. But, alas, I do not. One thing I can suggest is that it starts with the faculty member. Beginning the first day the students and faculty meet, the tone is set. The syllabus sets a tone. Language sets a tone. I am not suggesting a list of policies need to be handed out to students on the first day, however, I’m going to encourage each individual to think about how to convey a serious respect for the classroom and the learning endeavor, and how to demonstrate, thus command, respect for each and every individual. In addition, I’m going to encourage faculty to try and take themselves, and their personal biases, out of the equation.
Will you encounter problem “children” – most definitely. However, by managing “disruptions” with immediacy, firmness and discretion, the disruption to the majority of the attentive students will be minimal or completely unnoticed. For example, napping might drive you stark raving mad, but unless the napper snores, or tumbles out of their seat, it is a non-event to the rest of the class. My suggestion is to keep it that way.
If you have specific issues that you’d like to discuss, or you just need to vent, feel free to give SITE a call. We’re here when you need us.