Refrain from packing up early


Mimi Geller

Much like the melodrama of a comic cartoon, students seem to convey their restlessness at the end of class with dramatic paper shuffling and backpack zipping. Instead, students must learn to wait until class is officially over.

Mimi Geller, Director of RubicOnline

The itch is understandable. That one class that feels too early in the morning, that one lecture that seems endless, that one in-class discussion that requires an impossible level of concentration; students have all felt this restlessness at the end of class.

So, to trick the restless mind, students become married to the clock, enveloped by doodling in the margins of textbooks, and determined to reach for phones underneath tables.   

And then something wonderful happens. There are only five minutes left in class. And, like a conductor excitedly waving their baton to cue a finale, students eagerly begin surreptitiously zipping backpacks and shuffling papers. Now, only one minute remains in class. A teacher begins their preview class talk, and something washes over every student: the need to be freed. As if in unison, students pack up ruthlessly, rustling their papers, scooting their chairs. And while students are now fully equipped to leave right on time, many do not realize that the cacophony drowned out the last important bits of information from the teacher. Occasionally a teacher will tell students to wait, but many others give in and let them go, regardless if they heard the information.

Leaving early should not be a priority over engaging for the entirety of class.

While the chance to walk out of class around 30 seconds early by pseudo-communicating with the teacher with packing noises is perhaps a habitual activity, for many students with learning disabilities, the premature packing is an extraordinary distraction. Not only does it blur the teacher’s words, it unnecessarily diverts attention from the lesson at hand to the clicks and footsteps inching towards the door.

In addition to distracting students who already struggle to focus, students who pack up early miss the precious last minutes of lecture and learning. The teacher could be explaining a change in homework, a method to solving a difficult problem, and many would not notice. And although assignments are posted on Veracross, that does not mean students are exempt from listening.

Perhaps being ready to leave right away does save a small fraction of time, but it is disrespectful to the teacher and to students who are listening. 

What is even more troubling is that in high school, student develop habits for college or any other post-secondary education. While the behavior may fly in high school, a professor would certainly not entertain a symphonia of zippers and closing laptops when there are 5 minutes left.

Avoid the itch. Refrain from packing up early out of respect for teachers and peers. Resist the temptation of the backpack zipper to give students with learning challenges an opportunity to hear everything. Be present for the entirety of class, it will give more knowledge. And before it seems possible, the class will be over.