Modeling Professional Courtesy

As schools transition to online learning, some have raised concerns about students’ appropriate behavior for online interactions. Though the teachers are encouraged to be lenient this time in terms of deadlines, it is still very important for students to demonstrate some basic courtesy. As educators, we should not forget that the aims of education also include the personal, social, ethical, and professional development of the learners.

While classroom learning and online learning are different modalities, the rules are the same. You have to study, attend classes, take notes, submit assignments, and participate in class discussions. In the actual classroom, our gestures, posture, and facial expressions communicate our thoughts and observations to the people around us. But in online learning, we mostly rely on verbal and written cues to make emotional judgments on the person’s statements. Nevertheless, we still need to express ourselves in a scholarly, respectful, professional, and polite way. Below are some strategies to inculcate professional courtesy to your students.

Model Digital Citizenship Practices

According to Jones and Mitchell (2016), digital citizenship is the practice of respect and increasing civic engagement activities using internet resources. This definition is geared towards general citizenship education than admonitions to behavioral problems. In this perspective, it calls for the teachers to model their instruction where digital citizenship is not just being fostered, but enforced and practiced by the teachers themselves. To model these practices, there is a need for educators to teach professional courtesy in their classrooms. However, educators need to have a system where students can observe, learn, practice, and improve professional courtesy.

Develop Netiquette Guidelines

With learners viewed as digital citizens who exhibit the norms of appropriate and responsible behavior with regards to technology use (Ribble, 2015), educators need to make sure that their expectations are properly communicated. One can be subjective about their perceived good behavior and conduct for communicating online. Hence, writing netiquette guidelines that reflect the educator’s philosophy, teaching style, and existing resources such as the school’s code of conduct can guide students about the perspectives of their teachers. Developing these guidelines need not be collaborative, but the discussion at the beginning of the course where students are asked whether a certain provision is a good netiquette or not can help the teacher learn from the perspectives of the learners as well.

Incorporate and Reinforce Practices

It is important that the teacher reinforce practices that lead students to develop professional courtesy. For example, the teacher can use professional courtesy as a way to manage the classroom during synchronous learning set up. Every time that the teacher asks the class to give professional courtesy, the students are required to do steps such as muting their microphone and pausing on chat conversations. By these means, professional courtesy is a call for everyone in the meeting room for their eyes and ears to be focused on the teacher at the moment the teacher asked for it. To reinforce these practices, netiquette statements and guidelines can be incorporated in the introduction of every course or subject. Some netiquette criteria can also be incorporated into the rubrics assessment.

Be Intentional of Teaching It

As you have set these guidelines and teach professional courtesy, you need to be intentional of what you are doing. For the students to practice professional courtesy, they need to have a clear grasp of the expectation associated with it. In the beginning, modeling these practices can be a challenge, but with constant reinforcement, students’ responsess can become automatic every time you ask the students, “Can I have your professional courtesy?.


Defining and measuring youth digital citizenship—Lisa M Jones, Kimberly J Mitchell, 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2020, from

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know (Third edition). International Society for Technology in Education.

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