Just as an officer is to be respected during a military brief, many veterans feel that a professor should be respected in the classroom. A “relaxed” classroom environment where other students seem disrespectful of the professor or course content can be stressful for student veterans. With hearing loss, an overly boisterous class or numerous side conversations can add to the confusion and inability to focus on the material. Be mindful of student behaviors, and if student veterans seem detached, nervous or unwilling to participate, small environmental changes could allow them to better focus and learn.
Consider establishing a code of conduct to help with classroom management which will also help create a welcoming environment for all students.
Points to Consider
- As mentioned in “attending college can be intimidating”, the classroom can be a new experience for student veterans. The ebb and flow of class discussions and active participation is a very different exchange of information that service members are used to in military briefings.
- Following the multiple participants in an active discussion or dealing with background noise while an instructor is lecturing can be very distracting for service members, especially those with hearing loss.
- For people with hearing loss, background noise or multiple people speaking at one time can cause difficulty in following the conversation.
- Some people with hearing loss not only use sign language, hearing aids and FM systems, but also rely on lip reading, when more than one person is speaking it can become challenging to follow the speakers and try and lip read all that is being shared a one time.
Online Classroom Management
- Consider when holding interactive or discussion-based sessions, establishing a speaking order to help lessen the chances of more than one person speaking at a time
- Remind people to use the chat options for content only questions or comments and not for side discussions or comments
- Remind people to mitigate background noise or mute their microphones whenever possible
- Remind students to try and find a neutral space if the video options is being used or required (remove sensitive or personal items from view)
- Quiet spaces for studying or learning may be limited
- Like other non-traditional students, student veterans may be more likely to have families and young children at home with them
- COVID-19 has led to families being at home together more
- Try to be cognizant of student veterans who may be balancing the role of teacher and student at the same time if the session is during regular school hours
- Even student veterans taking night-time courses may find interruptions when home instead of in-class