Classroom Etiquette and Expectations

High school and college instructors often spell out the qualities or expectations they have for students to succeed. Practicing some basic etiquette in the classroom goes a long way in the teaching and learning process.


The following list of positive behaviors gives you an idea of what the instructor expects from successful students:

  • Treat the instructor with respect and courtesy. Be polite.

  • Be honest. Rather than lie about being late or not having an assignment, tell the truth (and accept the consequences). The instructor will respect you more if you tell the truth rather than make up some obvious lie.

  • Come to class on time.

  • Do the assignments for class and meet all deadlines for projects. Be prepared for tests.

  • If you have to miss a class, let the instructor know ahead of time, if possible. Also, arrange to get the homework so that you aren't behind when you return.

  • Wait to be called on if you have a question. Be aware, however, that your instructor may have other preferences on how to participate or ask questions. Find out!

  • Participate in class discussions and ask questions. Doing so shows the instructor that you're paying attention and are actively applying the information.

  • Ask for extra help after or before class (or at some other prearranged time) if you're struggling with a concept or project. Doing so shows the instructor you're aware that you aren't doing as well as you want, that you need help, and that you're taking responsibility by asking for help.

You can generally expect instructors to find the following classroom actions unacceptable:

  • Talking when someone else is talking, whether that's the instructor or another classmate.

  • Blurting out a question or answer without being called on. Again, your instructor may have other preferences on how to participate or ask questions. Find out!

  • Coming late to class.

  • Being unprepared for class.

  • Making up excuses or lying about being late or not having work done.

  • Distracting other classmates from their work.

  • Bullying, demeaning, threatening, or harassing another student or the instructor.

  • Bringing distractions (magazines, CD or MP3 players, cell phones, toys, and so on) to class. This may also include food, drinks, and even chewing gum.

  • Cheating on a paper, homework assignment, test, quiz, or other class work.