I am an associate lecturer and its my second term with the undergraduate students.

I noticed some of my students laugh when I teach. Its the most annoying thing I ever felt in my academic life so far. I always think, why some laugh while others appreciate my way of teaching? Its very puzzling. At the end of my first trimester I received a very positive feedback from the majority students. But just those couple of giggling students ruin my whole confidence.

I don't speak funny and I look average too but why why that happens with me?

Is it normal in academia? Did this happen to anyone else? And how I can deal with them?

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    One thing that's often effective is to simply stop talking and look at them until they stop. – Nate Eldredge Oct 23 '16 at 0:43
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    What @NateEldredge said works like a charm. And in the cases where they continue to giggle (or talk, or whatever), simply ask them to leave the lecture on grounds of their disruptive behaviour. – 101010111100 Oct 24 '16 at 8:19
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    Check your trousers zipper. :) – Federico Poloni Oct 24 '16 at 8:22
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    As a recent undergrad, I can say it's quite likely that they're not laughing at you, but rather laughing at something they're paying attention to instead of you, which is annoying but a different problem and one more likely to come back and bite them come finals. :P – MissMonicaE Oct 24 '16 at 14:29
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    I don't speak funny - Judging from your post, your use of English is not what I would call normal for a native speaker. I'm not saying this is the most likely scenario--I'm just trying to alert you to possibilities you're dismissing--but it's possible your way of speaking could be unintentionally amusing to some at times. (This is possible for both native and non-native speakers, and isn't something to necessarily take offense at.) – Kimball Oct 25 '16 at 2:16

In my experience, there are some students who just cannot take class seriously. They may not even be laughing at you. Rather, they may be talking with a classmate and find what they are discussing amusing. They may not be paying attention to you at all. When they take a test and do not do well, they may react by thinking that is funny. If it bothers you enough, you should talk with the students after class and explain that their behavior is distracting to you, and probably to their classmates. This might appeal to whatever sense of fairness they may have. If they continue to be a distraction for you, a pointed remark about immature behavior may be appropriate, again after class. You may, if you wish, indicate that their behavior shows a lack of respect for you, the course, and their classmates.

I would not call the students out in class. I would also consult the department chair for suggestions on how to handle the situation.

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  • Thanks. Its helpful. I emailed one of the students so they know this now that its not acceptable. – Ahmad Oct 23 '16 at 10:35
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    @Ahmad - Better to avoid one-way communication about this. We don't know yet why they're laughing, but if it's because they find you pompous and/or out of touch with regular people, such an email could accentuate that reaction. – aparente001 Oct 25 '16 at 8:12

Maybe ask one of your colleagues to attend a lecture and observe. They may be able to tell you what the students are laughing about. (Who knows... maybe you look like a TV star they all watch. Maybe you sound like a certain politician.) And your colleague may be able to tell you whether the same thing happens in other classes.

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  • It seems a good idea and I possibly wouldn't ask my colleagues but I have joined a public speaking club in my area which might able to give me a constructive feedback. – Ahmad Oct 25 '16 at 8:51

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