My Fears for Rye’s Longer Classes

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My Fears for Rye’s Longer Classes

Sydney Gager, Editor

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I am terrified for the effects Rye’s new schedule will have on students. In theory it sounds great–lunch is essential for health and longer class periods with rotation could encourage learning without overwhelming stress. However, I don’t believe the school is prepared for these changes.

Forty minutes in classes that have been boring or challenging already feels like an eternity. Fifty-five minutes–although technically only fifteen extra minutes–will feel like fifteen extra years. Rye has many amazing teachers but disliking a class period–either due to disliking the topic, classmates, or a teacher’s style–can make classes painful. I have had classes in the past that dragged down my entire day. While I don’t want to point fingers (as I know each teacher is trying their best) I have had teachers make insensitive jokes, classes where my peers make me uncomfortable, and more. I have seen a teacher throw things out of anger or scream at a class for being confused. These aren’t just things I’ve heard about, but things I’ve witnessed in Rye High School classes. Every time I felt hopeless. Rumor among students was that there was no point going to administration–either because they were already aware of the situation and didn’t care or because the teacher was untouchable due to tenure. I hope these claims were false, but I never had the courage to find out for myself. How are students supposed to survive classes where they are terrified–either due to the teacher, their peers, or the subject? How can Rye implement longer periods without scarring its already struggling students?

Rye needs to step up its game. For one thing, student opinions need to mean something. Their opinions cannot mean everything–as some of the best teachers are disliked for grading harshly or similar trivialities–but they should be valued. If students universally recommend their peers avoid a certain class solely due to the teacher, this should be a red flag. Additionally, there needs to be more training with the teachers. As a student I’m obviously unaware of what currently exists, but I do know that many teachers could use sensitivity training or at the very least a list of jokes that are inappropriate. (I feel particularly spirited about this due to a teacher who would make jokes about how students should hang themselves for not doing work–a rude and potentially triggering joke). Finally, the most important training (that hopefully is already occurring) is how to effectively teach longer classes. My concern is that teachers will continue to teach how they already do. I worry that the longer days won’t minimize homework–especially since teachers might use the days in between as an excuse for extra homework. If teachers are not taught how to break down lessons and homework assignments, the rotations could lead to worse stress for students.

In the same vein is my concern for the science classes. Although I absolutely love the majority of the science department, I can barely survive eighty minutes of lecturing. Let’s set the scene of the worst case scenario, that could potentially be 110 minutes of your day. You’re an exhausted student sitting alone in a class where you have no friends. The kids you sit near are obnoxious and loud. You’re struggling to understand the topic, but the teacher takes no notice. The lecture continues–boring, confusing, and overwhelming. You are all alone. The topic makes no sense, the teacher is too busy to notice your confusion, and there are no students you feel comfortable asking for help. Do you remember this feeling, of being alone, anxious, and defeated in a class? Imagine that for just a moment and then imagine feeling like that for one hundred and ten minutes straight. We cannot let this happen to Rye students.

More than all other teachers, science teachers need to understand that they cannot simply lecture. This is something that occurs in eighty minute classes, but cannot be allowed for one hundred and ten minutes. Sometimes labs aren’t a possibility, but group work or mini-lab activities (or at the very least funny videos) should be a requirement for double science periods, not just to minimize student suffering, but also to keep them awake and engaged.

Whatever new training teachers are receiving should be explained to students. As far as I know nothing is happening. I’m sure this is incorrect, but I have no way of knowing. Students deserve to know how teachers are being trained so they can feel confident for the imminent changes. 

Whenever I consider the new schedule (which doesn’t even personally affect seniors like me) there’s a pit in my stomach. Don’t allow this attempt at a better schedule create more misery for the already overworked Rye student.