Faculty On: Classroom Etiquette

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One of the delights of being a Wake Forest alumna and teaching here is mentoring students, assuring them, as I was by Wake Forest faculty, that they will always have someone in their corner. Students seeking recommendation letters can help mentors by providing a C.V., a personal statement about why they are seeking the fellowship, internship or graduate school slot and deadlines and other relevant information about the recipient of the letter. And don’t forget the handwritten thank-you note. Form the habit of writing them in college. They will distinguish you in the world outside the bubble.

– Maria Henson, Associate Vice President and Editor-at-Large, Journalism Lecturer

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Classroom etiquette to me is part of something much bigger, notably a student’s presence in the classroom. Presence is extremely important, not just in the classroom but really in any endeavor in life, because it communicates to the professor and classmates that you want to succeed and that you care about learning. I think that some students feel reticent about reaching out for help. Perhaps the culture of academic excellence at Wake Forest leads some students to feel like they shouldn’t struggle or need help. But faculty on this campus delight in helping students. So one big mistake is students wait until the end of the semester to reach out for help and it is often too late for the faculty member to do much. My advice to students is to get to know your professor early in the semester. Set up an informal meeting at which point you can share any concerns you might have about the course or personal issues you are experiencing. Or this meeting could simply be to help the professor get to know you better as a person. This sets the foundation for being able to have dialogue about issues as they come up throughout the semester and can lead to a much more satisfactory experience in the course. It also helps professors when it comes time to writing you letters of recommendation.

– Steve Giles, Associate Professor of Communications

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While Wake Forest students are generally polite, engaged and appropriate in classroom and faculty interactions, active listening techniques convey professionalism and increase connections.  Powerful listening increases understanding, creates positive impressions and is vital to communication.  Paying attention, showing you are listening, deferring judgment, providing appropriate feedback or responses all help create a positive classroom atmosphere where everyone feels valued.  Electronic distractions, “sidebar” conversations and “less than positive” attitudes all hinder communication, in and out of the classroom.  Business protocol is all about creating positive connections with other people.  Demonstrating that you are really listening improves relationships with other students and faculty.

– Sam Beck, Director of the Student Professional Development Center, Schools of Business

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