The student newspaper described a chaotic environment in the class where the faculty members made the threat to walk out, with loud chatting among students and even paper airplanes being shot around the room. ...
I've never had law students behave remotely this badly. About the most disruptive conduct I've faced is students leaving class, presumably to go to the bathroom. One year I really lost my temper about that and told the class "If you can't hold it for the whole class, buy some Depends." As you can imagine, my evaluations that semester tanked.
Frankly, I'm not at all sure what I'd do if faced with the level of disruption that took place at Ryerson. Walking out seems like the only option. Any other ideas?
This is inresponse to an Inside Higher Ed column entitled "Should Profs Leave Unruly Classes?"
I've never had behavior that bad in any of my classes.
I used to TA for the late Walter Johnson at Mizzou. He told me something the first semester I taught for him that has stuck with me since: "It's easier to let up than to clamp down." In other words, when the first time a disruption happens, attack it as vigorously as possible to show students you mean business. So when a student is texting during class, I let that student and the rest of the class know in no uncertain terms that I don't appreciate it. It's worked well for me.
I also ban the use of laptops in my classes. In fact, the first words I say at the beginning of the semester are "Close and put away your laptops. You won't need them in this class." If a student has a laptop open, I won't start class until it's put away.
That said, I love the Depends comment. To that I give a golf clap and say "well played, professor. Well played."
Update: link via Glenn Reynolds who says "...the magic words are 'pop quiz'".
Update: I had a student who was using a calculator in my last class today. But he was holding it up in front of his face, it looked like a cell phone, and he was using his thumbs to push its buttons. It looked like he was texting. Luckily, I didn't raise my voice but I reminded the students to not text during class.