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Classroom Q&A

With Larry Ferlazzo

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to lferlazzo@epe.org. Read more from this blog.

Teaching Opinion

Students Are Finally Back Together. Here’s How They Feel About It

By Larry Ferlazzo — October 11, 2021 8 min read
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(This is the final post in a two-part series. You can see Part One here.)

The new question-of-the-week is focused on student responses:

How does it feel to be back in school? What feels good, bad, or strange? What are you looking forward to and what are you worried about? What are teachers doing to make you feel welcome, safe, and supported, and what more could they do?

In Part One, students Pachia Xiong, Kate Eggert, Lillyanna Her, and Luis Alberto Sicairos Galvan contributed their commentaries.

Today, several students in my classes share their experiences. Here are responses from Julia Yang, Daniel Llanito Galvan, Kennethy Vang, and Adeba Mushir:

‘Finally Back Together’

Julia Yang is a senior at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif.:

After all the hardships through distance learning, we are all finally back together learning in person. After finding out that we were officially going back to school in person, it was nerve-racking since we have not seen each other in so long. But, surprisingly on the first day of school, it was pretty normal; at some point I felt a little awkward seeing everyone again, but it was nice. Something that shocked me was seeing so many people gather around because during the pandemic (which we are still in) other than doing important errands, I mostly stayed home. However, it was very nice to be back in person to learn and interact with other people.

Something that is good is that we can continue our learning more comfortably. For example, some students may like to learn things when it is being taught to them physically. I feel like most people feel that way. Another good thing is that we have friends or classmates who we can ask questions of or help each other. Compared to when we did distance learning, we did not get to do that. The reason why learning and being taught physically may be a good thing is because we can absorb the information better in my opinion. I feel like if we see each other, we can have a better understanding because we see what each other is doing. As to where we did online learning, it can be hard to show someone what you meant or try to teach someone.

The next thing is that there are no bad or strange things at the moment from what I can tell. Maybe it’s just a little harder to see others’ facial expressions or hearing their voice because of the mask, but overall it doesn’t bother me. Something I am looking forward to right now is maintaining good grades and GPA’s. I am also looking forward to passing all of my classes and exams. As well as spending time with friends and finding what I want to do when I am off to college. Now, what I am worried about is the IB exam, oral presentations, and all of the assignments that I have to do. It can get overwhelming sometimes, yet I believe that if I put in my efforts and reach out for help, I’ll succeed.

Lastly, the teachers are great, everyone’s helpful and understanding. They are very patient when teaching, and I appreciate that. There are times where the teachers check in with their students to see how we are doing. I think that that kindness is very welcoming.

In conclusion, this school year is just like any other school year, just a little different because we are still in a pandemic. Overall, I believe that I and other students can get through this by putting in effort and having fun by trying new things.

itwasveryniceyang

‘Names Are Pretty Important’

Daniel Llanito Galvan is a junior at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif.:

It feels exciting to be back in school. Especially after being at home for what appeared to be a long time but was only about a year. Maybe two, I have lost track of time.

Although I won’t be able to interact as I used to with people, because of COVID-19, I still like the feeling of being around a big group of people with similar situations as me. I am definitely looking forward to challenging myself into getting good grades and being at the top of my class.

Although I often deny it because it seems a bit silly, names are pretty important. I feel welcomed by the teachers once they say a simple, “Hi Daniel.” There is something about being recognized or paid attention for even at least a second that feels comforting.

So far, within the month that I’ve had in school, I feel pretty safe. My teachers provide masks in class in case ours get broken. There is hand sanitizer everywhere, which I think I abuse maybe a little too much. I don’t waste it, but I sometimes get some without even thinking. Overall, teachers and other staff members of my school seem to know well how to keep us students safe. I have talked to a few teachers about my future with university and the current things I should work on to be successful. I feel supported by my teachers and counselor. If all goes well, I should be in a good position.

ifeelwelcomed

‘My Teachers Are Pretty Friendly’

Kennethy Vang is a junior at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif.

Having to go back to school physically, or in person, again feels weird. We spent a whole school year and a third doing school online, but now we’re all back. During the first week of school when we went in person again, I felt so lost because I stressed over not remembering what and where my classes were. But now, I seem to have gotten the hang of it. I don’t even have to look at the map or my schedule anymore, because I memorized everything. The previous year of school feels strange. Like it never even happened. It all happened online so there was not much to remember from it. I barely remember anything anymore.

What I’m looking forward to is passing my junior year and then graduating after my senior year. Because after graduating, I can finally get my diploma and return to Fresno. I promised my grandma that I would get my diploma before returning. Also, graduating is why we come to school anyway. One thing I worry a lot about, though, is the amount of schoolwork I’ll be getting. I know I like procrastinating a lot, but it won’t help me at all with this. Another thing I’m worried about is asking for help. I’m scared that one of my teachers will get mad at me when I raise my hand to let them know I was falling behind. I was scared they’d ask why I wasn’t “paying attention.” It’s all me just being anxious, and I know they probably won’t do such things.

My teachers are pretty friendly and welcoming. Well, sometimes. Most of the time, they will never leave a student behind (Well, maybe). Sometimes they come around to check on students to make sure everyone is on track. If anyone isn’t, they won’t get mad. They help the student with what they are troubled about. I think the teachers are already doing a great job of creating a safe and supportive environment. I’m already fine with how they are. They’re nice and not too demanding. So I won’t ask more of them. This school is nice, and I wouldn’t think of being anywhere else.

thepreviousyearofschool

‘Hope’

Adeba Mushir is a junior at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif.:

I feel excited about this school year. I was super tired of sitting in front of the computer, but on the other hand, it was an experience we had.

The only thing I feel strange about this school year is wearing masks. I struggle with these masks; they are so annoying. I never got used to them and I never wanted to. It was just like a cave that you never wanted to go into.

This school year seems like a roller coaster, but I want to tighten my seat belt and be careful not to fall from it, so I can reach the end. I have a bunch of plans for the college-entrance test, passing all my classes with straight A’s, college classes, and balancing more things in my life and working toward them is my biggest goal. There is nothing I worry about as much as my college-entrance tests.

I always want to be a good example to my siblings. Because I never had an older sibling and I don’t know what it’s like to have one. Knowledge is power. I research every single thing that comes to my mind.

There are a couple of keys to being successful in your educational goal: respect, hope, inspiration, love, hard work, belief, and walking in the right direction for that thing. From my experience, hope is the most important one, because there was a time when I lost my hopes and went in the wrong direction, but there were people that gave me hope. They were my amazing teachers. I am truly grateful for having them in my life and so thankful that I had a chance to be one of their students.

thisschoolyearseemslikearollercaoster

Thanks to Julia, Daniel, Kennethy, and Adeba for contributing their thoughts.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email (The RSS feed for this blog, and for all Ed Week articles, has been changed by the new redesign—new ones are not yet available). And if you missed any of the highlights from the first 10 years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below.

I am also creating a Twitter list including all contributors to this column.

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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