I am a 10th grader at Riverside High School. I am a student, golfer, and member of the #bowtieboys. I strive to be an advocate for every student, and I believe every student should have a chance to learn in their own way. Every student deserves a fair and equal education that is flexible for what they need. When this happens, students will be more engaged, and lessons will have more energy. This will lead to a better chance for students to retain the content taught, and hopefully learn some skills along the way.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Importance of Organization

            Ever since people started talking about how to improve the education system, one thing that has always been talked about is “Is it more important to teach skills or content?”.  I think that there should be an equal balance of both, but one part of skills that I feel like are looked over in the classroom too often, is organization.  Organization is a skill that can not only make or break you as a student, but as a person too.

  I used to be terribly unorganized in school, and my grades were greatly impacted by it.  I changed my habits going in to the tenth grade, and my grades started to raise again.  This is because before I got organized, I had to focus a lot of my time and energy on finding the work that I needed to do, instead of using all of that time and energy on the work itself.  Luckily I had some people in my life that taught me how to be organized outside of school, but I know that there are plenty of students who go through their school years without ever learning how to truly be organized.  And if people aren’t taught how to be organized, I think it’s going to be a massive shock when they go into the working world without any of these skills, so it is very important for it to be taught in the classroom.

            There are tons of ways to teach organization, but not every way will stick with every student.  I believe that every advisory or homeroom class, whatever your school has, should teach different ways to keep students organized.  For example, they should teach a way to stay organized by means of an agenda, by means of technology like having an online planner, and by just helping students mentally organize and prioritize their work.  The only real way to see if students are staying organized, is graded notebook checks.  I almost hate saying that, because I don’t like them, but it is really the only way to get students organized, and I know it will help on the long run.

            This particular skill is very important at this time for high school students, because it is a skill that goes beyond the classroom.  Time management is also under the category of organization, and high school is arguably the busiest time in people’s lives, especially for student athletes.  Again, I was lucky enough to have learned this through some people in my life, so time management has never been too much of a problem, but I see that a lot of my peers are having that issue.  One way to teach this, is to teach kids how to properly use a planner, either on their mobile device, or on paper.

            Organization has been an issue for high school students for such a long time.  It is often one of the things that separates a good student from a great one.  It is a tough skill to teach, but through the right teaching methods, it can be so beneficial to the students.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Student Suspension and Detention

            Student punishment has always been one of the main issues in modern school systems today.  I personally have never been affected with punishments too severe to not just have been handled in the classroom, but I have many friends that have.  My main issue with punishments in school, is the system of out of school suspension.  I have talked to a few of my friends who have had out of school suspension, and it seems like the suspension just adds to the stress they had in the first place, and some admit that stress is the reason that they did what they did to get suspended.  This is why I believe that instead of having the kid stay out of school for a little, have the student sit down with their teachers and their administrators and just talk about what they can do to help the student, after all, that’s the main goal anyways.

            One other issue with the out of school suspension system, is that teachers are notified that one of their students has been suspended, but they are often not told for how long, and are never told why.  I think this is a major issue, because this is a huge inopportunity for teachers to help their students at a level beyond the standards.  Having this odd separation between the administrators, teachers and students makes the student feel more separated, which might cause more problems in the long run than making the situation more open from the beginning.

            If the administrators are worried about the safety of other students, I think that students should be taken out of their classes for a while, instead of school completely.  This way students will be at least doing something educational in this time, and it will not affect them in terms of their resumes when it comes to college.  Also, I don’t there should be a rubric, if you will, for suspension, but it should be on a complete case by case system.  Because again, the end goal is to help the student.  I feel like students are often sent home for very minor transgressions that would be better fixed in another way.

             One other problem I see with school punishments, is the lack of such for tardiness.  Students (including myself) are often late to school in the morning and are missing most of our first class, but the school never says anything.  Then out of nowhere you get detention on a Friday after school.  I think it would be a lot better if the administrators just talked to the student about why they aren’t getting there in time, and lay consequences down on a case by case basis.
            I see out of school suspension as a way of the school system just burying the problem, instead of fixing it.  When a student is out of school from an issue, it isn’t going to change that student as a person for when they come back, but just give them a rest to gather themselves.  This doesn’t mean that the problem is fixed, because from what I have seen, most the times the kids that get suspended don’t just get suspended once, it’s a reoccurring issue.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Keeping Students Focused

            Throughout the history of education, educators and administrators have tried to find ways to help students that have learning disabilities and other mental conditions.  There have been several inventions and techniques that can help this issue, but there are very few that don’t impair the learning for the rest of the class.  This is also a very relevant issue now, with the immergence of the “fidget spinner” and “fidget cubes”.  Both of these new products are very successful, but they have caused loads of controversy in the classroom, so I just thought I’d put my two cents into the issue.

            This is a very relevant problem to me personally, as I am a student that has been diagnosed with both inattentive ADHD and GAD (Generalized anxiety disorder).  There have been very few products to help anxiety, and the ones that do work, seem to annoy the students around me quite a lot, which is the main issue with the ever so popular fidget spinner.  If you aren’t familiar with the fidget spinner, it is basically a gyroscope that is made of a simple polymer and some ball bearings. You flick the spinner and it is meant to spin, which is supposed to calm people with ADHD.  The thing that has caused so much controversy with these however, is that they make noise, and they might not even provide the ability to focus on the lesson in class.  I myself had a fidget spinner, and it was absolutely great for keeping me less distracted, but it had me focusing on the spinner itself more than the lesson.  I think that these gadgets are probably better off looked as a small toy to pass time with.  Another issue with these products is that some can make noise which is a distraction for other students.  So overall this was a good idea to calm those students who suffer from various mental conditions and learning disabilities, but it isn’t very effective for students in class due to the distraction it creates. 

            Another product that has been released recently is the fidget cube.  This is just a simple cube with a good amount of options. Since a cube has six sides, this gadget utilizes all six sides to provide a different thing to fidget with.  For example, one side has a ball to spin around, and one of the other sides has a light switch like mechanism.  This product is a much better idea to help kids in the classroom, but in my personal experience, it doesn’t work.  I just didn’t find the fidget cube good enough to keep me focused in class like the spinner did. 

            So, with both of these products failing, there seems to be no “one size fits all” answer to this issue.  The only real way to help your students stay focused and interested in class, is to talk to your students individually.  This way every student will know that their teacher is open to new ideas to keep them focused.  One thing that helps me focus, is if I’m feeling out of it, I just go stand in the back of the room.  That seems to help me stay alert and attentive, and doesn’t cause an issue for any of the other students in the class.  In the end, it is the student’s responsibility to stay focused in class, but they should have every ability to do so.  Another thing that keeps me focused in class is music.  When I can’t keep my head straight on just one activity, I just put one of my earbuds in, and I find that I can do my work much more efficiently this way.  I encourage all teachers to be open to any means to maintain focus for every student.  I also encourage all students to talk to their teachers about what they do to stay focused in class.  Once this communication break is fixed, students will be much more attentive in class.