Dos and Don’ts of Back to School Etiquette

by Purvi S. Mody

back to school

Back to school season is upon us, and for most students that means new teachers, new classes, and new responsibilities. In order to have a successful year, no matter what grade you are in, it is important to follow some basic rules of etiquette for back to school. Your teachers will appreciate the effort, and you will be less distracted by the things that matter less throughout the year.  Remember that your top priority when you are on campus is to learn; everything else is secondary.

Below is a list of dos and don’ts to keep you on track in and in the good graces of your teachers during the back to school season and beyond!

DO turn off your cell phone before class and keep it off until school is over. Off means off – not on vibrate. That buzzing sound is distracting to everyone around you and will cause you to wonder who is trying to reach you.

DON’T, under any circumstances, use your phone to take pictures without authorization in class. Not only is it inappropriate, it can also he unlawful to  take pictures of people without their consent.

DO be on time for class. Walking in late shows that you don’t care or respect school or your teachers appropriately. It is also unfair to the teacher to have to repeat content. If you know you are going to be late, give the teacher ample warning and sit in the back of class on that day.

DON’T make excuses for missing assignments. There is no reason why you should not know when something is due. Most teachers these days post assignments online. If your teacher does not, make sure to write down assignments regularly so that your work is done on time.

DO remember your “pleases” and “thank yous”. Common courtesy can go a long way when the back to school season starts.

DO give teachers ample notice if you need a letter of recommendation. You cannot expect your teacher to drop everything because you waited until the last minute.

DON’T try to Facebook-friend your teachers or administrators without their express permission. While you might think that some of your teachers are super cool, the teacher-student relationship has boundaries that you need to respect.

DO feel free to email your teachers with questions.

DON’T email or text your teachers late at night and expect an immediate response. Just because you forgot to write down tomorrow’s assignment does not mean that your teacher is required to be online awaiting your email.

DON’T talk in class. Your teachers can hear everything. Disrupting the class will affect others’ abilities to focus and being disrespectful will not bring you anything positive.

DO talk to your teachers if you are concerned about your progress or grades. Be sure to contact them in a timely and appropriate manner.

DON’T send mom and dad to yell at a teacher because you got a low grade. You are old enough to handle this on your own. Your parents should only approach the teacher if he or she is being unresponsive to you, or if there is a serious problem. Your teachers will generally appreciate your initiative.

DON’T blame others for your missteps. Remember that in life, people do not care about blame, but rather about solutions. If there was a miscommunication, figure out a system to make sure that does not happen again. Every failure is a learning opportunity.

DO get to know your teachers. They are real people and want to help their students. You might be surprised to learn that your bio teacher goes rock climbing on the weekends, or that your math teacher played the sax in school. Developing a good teacher student relationship can benefit you in school and after graduation.

DO have fun this year. Yes, it is another year of school, but it is also another year of your life. Make the most of it.

Have a fantastic year!

Purvi S. Mody is co-owner of Insight Education, an educational consulting firm that helps students throughout the country and internationally to achieve their educational goals. Get in touch with her via email at or follow her on Twitter @InsightEduc.

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