By: Laura Grimm
You’re giving your presentation when you notice only three people in the audience are paying attention.
A few students snicker when the PowerPoint takes longer to load than normal, and some discreetly tap-tap under their desks, eyes furtively darting up and down. Some don’t even bother, holding their phones in plain sight. Someone in the back pulls their hood over their head and slinks down for a nap. Before you finish your presentation, the entire class erupts into a flurry of zippered backpacks, slammed books and rustled papers.
You’d feel pretty awful if this happened to you, right? Well, that’s what professors go through every class.
I’m guilty of being an inattentive audience member. I admit it. But one of the most aggravating things is when your professor is forced to trail off with a meek “See you next class” because students are making too much noise. It’s aggravating because these professors spent years earning PhDs in a field they obviously find fascinating. They became professors because they wanted to impart their wisdom and passion onto the next generation—us.
They put all that work in, and we as students don’t respect or thank them enough.
Don’t respect them just because they’re professors, though. Respect them because they’re human beings. Everyone—yes, everyone—deserves to be treated politely (unless they do something really awful, but that’s a whole other story).
Respecting others should be a core value for all of us, but sadly, it isn’t. Disrespect manifests in the smallest of signals—cutting in line, not holding the door open and expecting professors to be at our beck and call.
You should hear the horror stories professors have about us: students asking for extra credit the last day of class, students asking what their grade is when they’ve never shown up to class and students wondering why the professor didn’t grade all 100 papers in two days.
We can really be inconsiderate jerks. Why does our time matter more than someone else’s?
I’m issuing you a challenge this week. Even if your professor is rambling or making bad puns, stay respectful. Look them in the eye. Take notes. Check the syllabus or assignment sheet before asking when your project is due. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but your professors will appreciate it. And hey, having your professors like you is never a bad thing. Maybe they’ll even bump up your grade at the end of the semester.
Finally, how you treat others is how you deserve to be treated. If you’re nice, people will be nice to you. If you’re mean, people will be mean back. If you’re disrespectful, karma is coming your way.
After all, if you don’t respect other people, why should anyone respect you?