Posts Tagged classroom behavior
It’s time that we have a discussion about cellular phones and proper usage of said devices. There are many people using them and most of them have no idea how to use them politely.
I was recently at a small café that had a sum total of nine tables, in an intimate setting, eating breakfast. It was an enjoyable affair, except for the fact that somebody at one of the other tables was busy chatting away with a friend on a cell phone at the top of his lungs. The whole experience was a disaster. What could have been an enjoyable experience in a pleasant morning setting was wrecked.
There are other times that I see cell phone users acting in a reckless manner: while driving. It was a sobering experience a few years back when my car was hit by a drunk driver: while at the body shop, the elderly gentleman who been in the business for 30 or 40 years said when he started out in the business he used to walk around the shop and point at cars saying “drunk driver, drunk driver.” Today he walks around the same shop, pointing at cars and saying “cell phone, cell phone.” His casual observation in the body shop was backed up by a New England Journal of Medicine study in 1997 that found people using cell phones were four times more likely to be involved in an accident than people not using their phones.
As such I would like to make two proposals: First, that a group be formed to combat accidents caused by cellular phones. Modeled after MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, it could be called MACE: Mothers Against the Cellular Epidemic. Secondly, a conversation about cellular etiquette needs to be held, both in our community of learners and in our society at large.
I suggest the conversation within our academic community because as the number of cell phone users expands, I anticipate trying to listen to a lecture (whether a class or public lecture) while an audience member (student or otherwise) talks on their cell phone.
As such specific etiquette is needed, and there seem to be some easy suggestions:
- Phones should be turned off unless you are expecting an important phone call. Finite math is not the time to be speaking with your pal Muffy about your date last night.
- Should you expect an important call, audible phone rings should be turned off, vibrating rings are acceptable if your phone has that feature.
- If you do have your cellular phone turned on, sit by the aisle and near the door to leave should the phone ring.
- When the phone rings, you should leave the room before answering the call.
- Apologize to the professor after class and explain the nature of the emergency. Most professors are more sympathetic when they have an explanation of why you left the room abruptly.
Finally, in society at large, we need to recognize that cellular phones are a vital part of the world but it is important to be polite when using the phone. Clearly driving while talking on the phone can have just as deadly results as driving while drunk, but there are other times and places that cell phone etiquette needs to be followed. Here is an outline of some basic premises I would suggest:
- As noted before, do not drive and talk on the phone. There ought to be a law enforcing this objective, and there is: in Brooklyn, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving.
- Do not talk on your cell phones in restaurants, unless you have gone outside. Recently one New York City restaurant installed a cell phone lounge for people who are more interested in talking than eating.
- Finally, do not shout into your cell phone. Shouting defeats the purpose of having a cell phone, since most people who shout into their cell phones shout loudly enough for the person they are calling to hear without use of the phone.
Cellular phones are here to stay, and the convenience and safety they offer is amazing, but along with technological progression comes the responsibility to use them carefully and politely.
It’s two years ago I stepped into a classroom for the first time as an instructor and not as a student. In the space of one summer, I had gone from being a senior with senioritis to being a graduate student and a budding instructor. I had a crash course about how people learn and the problems some people encounter with learning disabilities.
There is no doubt that I tend to excel in the typical university classroom.
I’ve never been daunted by lectures nor afraid to talk during discussions. My learning style coincides with the methods that most professors on this campus use. In those fields I love to study, I rarely encounter a situation that I find to be intolerable and incomprehensible.
But a lot of people struggle with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities — an issue explored in the Feb. 24 IDS article entitled, “Student turns challenge into blessing” — are a real concern for students and faculty. They can come in many different forms: dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia, to name three broad categories. (Dysgraphia are problems associated with reading and dyscalculia are problems associated with math.)
What is critical for all learning-disabled students is that they learn how to communicate their problems and concerns to their professors. After listening to my professors rant and rave over the past seven years, I know that this is an important component. Many of my professors were skeptical whenever a student showed up on the day of the test and announced, “I have a learning disability and I need a special room and extra time.”
That was, without a doubt, the wrong time to tell my professors that piece of news. Talking to them about these situations, I found that they had a lot of concerns about doing anything for the student at that point. Questions like “Does he really have a learning disability?” and “Does she really need that much extra time?” were constantly on their mind.
There was also the major concern of “Do learning disabilities catch?” That is to say, will one student claim a learning disability when they see another get extra time or special consideration? As a student, I know that I was occasionally frustrated when I’d see a classmate claim a learning disability and get extra time or other perceived “extras” that I did not get.
What I came to appreciate as a budding instructor were the students who were upfront and honest about their learning disabilities. The key here was communication and timing. The earlier they told me about their special needs, the better I was able to handle their problem appropriately and discretely.
That’s why I was particularly pleased to see the article earlier this week about a freshman with dyslexia. Freshman Alli Jainchill took the problem by its horn and turned it into an advantage. She also sought out the additional help that this University, and all universities, provide.
The Office of Disabled Student Services has assisted students with learning disabilities since the 1970s and established the Coordinator of Learning Disability Services position four years ago. Lynn Flinders, who recommends that students contact her office if they have problems, currently holds that position. The number is 855-3508.
My recommendation for all students with learning disabilities is to give the office a call today. Midterm season is nearing quickly and you really shouldn’t surprise your professor at the last moment.
I did ask one last question of Flinders before I finished writing my column. I asked her if test anxiety is a learning disability. It isn’t one, so the University isn’t obligated to accommodate it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek out help for text anxiety: for that problem you should consult with the Student Academic Center at 855-7313.