Opinion: We Are Reaching a Breaking Point

Opinion by The Hyphen Staff

Editor’s note: This piece was written collaboratively by the 14 members on The Hyphen staff. Since this group makes up 0.0067 percent of the student population at Jeff High, we aren’t exactly a representative sample. That being said, our job is to serve as the voice of the students — and we’ve done our best to represent every single one of you.

The alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. Or maybe it’s noon. Or maybe there is no alarm at all.

The Google Classroom is overflowing with dozens of to-do items. Or maybe it’s just a few. Or maybe it’s none.

The agenda for the day is to log in to four Google Meet sessions. Or maybe it’s just two. Or maybe it’s none.

By the end of the day, we will have completed eight hours of work. Or maybe it’s just a few hours. Or maybe it’s none.

If there is one thing consistent about the experience of a Jeff High student during Coronavirus, it is inconsistency. Specifically, we have noted inconsistencies in:

  • Amount of work
  • Whether the class has live Google Meets
  • Whether Google Meets are required
  • When the Google Meets take place
  • When the assignments are due
  • Whether work can be turned in late

The result is that we are constantly dealing with conflicting priorities — and we are overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused.

Yes, we realize there are bigger issues. Because of Coronavirus, some students don’t know how they will get their next meal. Some are in abusive situations at home that they can’t get away from. Some are dealing with depression and anxiety made worse by isolation.

We can’t fix everything, but we can suggest some changes the school district could consider as a way to lessen stress and increase motivation:

1 – Standardize expectations. Do teachers have Google Meets or not? Are they required or not? Are assignments due in an hour or a day? Are office hours for My School students or everyone? When do office hours happen? What’s the best way to reach out to my teacher?

2 – Respect the block. Although opinions on block scheduling are mixed, we agree that it does help us focus. Please avoid posting to-do items for classes on their “off” day or having a Google Meet during another class period.

3 – De-emphasize writing. We are used to showing what we know in class, not just writing all day. Writing takes longer than speaking or thinking, and it is challenging for a lot of people who are otherwise good communicators. If there’s a way to have us show what we know without writing (for instance, draw something and snap a picture), please do that. It is more work to do everything in writing, and it just gets repetitive after a while.

4 – Keep our other commitments in mind. During a typical school year, students have other obligations that keep them busy: jobs, sports, household responsibilities. It’s no different with Coronavirus. In fact, many students are working more hours because their workplaces see “online” as “on call all the time.” Many are also taking on more responsibility for watching siblings and helping around the house. 

5 – Consider the impact of last spring. The entire fourth quarter was a dud for students. For more than a month, students were not expected to keep the same level of academic focus as we are used to. Most students didn’t even take final exams. Due to this, many are more likely to struggle. 

6 – Be kind. A lot of students are going through a really tough time. They don’t show it. They don’t say it. Yes, sometimes we let you down. Sometimes we get overwhelmed and can’t keep up. Please show forgiveness and kindness. We’re all trying to get through this and get back to “normal” (whatever that is). 

These times are not normal. It’s important to realize that the student body is simply a reflection of the world. We’re just as overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused about our future as adults are. We are just as eager for rays of hope, for a light at the end of the tunnel, for life “after all this is over.” 

Also, we know that our teachers are overwhelmed and stressed, too. We aren’t placing all the blame there. In fact, we want to say thank you to some of the people who make this difficult time a little easier. 

  • Mr. Densford, Ms. Paul, Miller and Martinez: Thank you for caring about how we are doing, not just what we are doing.
  • Mr. Hornickel: Thank you for keeping us engaged and active.
  • Mr. McDonald, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Robinson: Thank you for being clear and consistent.
  • Mrs. Rector, Mr. Wigginton, and Mr. Dench: Thank you for always reaching out and making sure everyone’s up to speed. 
  • Principal Hall and the Assistant Principals: Thank you for everything you are doing to keep us safe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s