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What I Wish High School Educators Understood

Are good grades worth my mental health?

Escrito por Si Ting and Amira

What I Wish High School Educators Understood

01 Navigating school work and mental health is challenging many students during the pandemic.

02 Si Ting and Amira highlight areas that could use improvement, and share a list that educators can implement to alleviate these issues.

School is an academic hot mess right now. With balancing assignments, deadlines, mental health, and a social life, it feels almost impossible to keep up with everything without making some sacrifices. Under this year long pandemic, it’s understandable that our motivation and patience has gone down. But what has made the stress worse — especially when you have academically strict first generation parents — has been the large course loads. 

It feels as if our educators have been trying to overcompensate for not being in person by giving us way more work than in a typical semester. This workload has been twice as difficult for students who are already taking rigorous classes, such as AP or honors. Educators also aren’t effectively communicating with each other about how much work they’re collectively assigning. After an exhausting class, teachers will often say, “Don’t forget to go outside!” What they don’t realize is that it is almost impossible to go outside during the work week. After school ends, students are busy attending to extracurriculars, or trying to get a head start on homework. It gets to the point where completing homework takes from 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM, which makes it confusing and questionable when educators say that they care about our mental health and well being.

The lack of school-life balance throws you into a self-loathing depression cycle. You’re either angry because you’re not productive enough, or angry because you’re not keeping up with your personal life.

The lack of school-life balance throws you into a self-loathing depression cycle.

The exhaustion doesn’t end on Friday afternoon, but also carries over into the weekend. The desire of wanting to recharge from the week holds us back from completing chores, hanging out with family, and engaging in hobbies. Throughout the pandemic, many of us have fallen into a suffocating labyrinth, trying to navigate between taking care of ourselves and staying productive.

As a Muslim student who goes to a predominately white school, the pandemic has been extremely difficult due to fasting during school hours. The inconsideration of educators towards my religion makes me feel infuriated and less than because our holidays deserve the same level of attention as other “mainstream” holidays. As Ramadan approaches, hunger can make it difficult to be productive. My religion is non-negotiable, so when teachers give me large workloads without accommodations it makes me feel like I have to sacrifice my mental health in order to stay on top of assignments. 

Many of us have fallen into a suffocating labyrinth.

Below is a list of ways we believe our teachers can help alleviate these issues:

  • Do not assign homework everyday 
  • Communicate with each other about course loads 
  • Make sure the curriculum appreciates, represents, and highlights students’ diverse backgrounds in order to ensure that none of us are excluded
  • Give students time to digest the material before moving onto the next topic
  • Provide transparency in syllabus so we’re not caught off guard 
  • Respect students’ emotional boundaries 
  • Respect our time and acknowledge that we have responsibilities outside of your class
  • Don’t pressure students to speak during class when their hands aren’t raised, or be dismissive when they don’t know the answer 
  • More community building in class and opportunities to connect with our classmates

As high school students, we want to further our education, maintain relationships, and do what makes us happy without compromising our health in the process. By following the list above and communicating with your students about their needs, you can help create a better learning experience for everyone in the classroom — both online and in person.

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Amira was born in Saudi Arabia, raised in Syria, but is also ethnically Somali. In 2020, Amira has become a published author through a Telling Room book titled The Voice of A Lion. As a professional complainer, Amira spends her time reading, talking, and crying just about anything. She believes that her friends would describe her as an overly-confident, intelligent, and charismatic high schooler. Above everything, Amira remembers everybody who has wronged her, so be careful y’all. 

Si Ting is a 1st generation Chinese American living. A stressed high school student who reads books for escapism and adventure living in what seems like mundane Maine. Adept in all things but decisions, everything can become a part of a world built in her imagination. Dexterous, imaginations through unskilled hands become worlds anew through art and writing. You can find some of her writing in the 2020 edition of the Telling Room’s Young Leaders and Writers anthology, The Voice of a Lion. She can be found in the unnatural wild reading, writing, drawing, and laughing with family and friends. Shy but opinionated, she’ll debate with you for hours when it comes down to it, don’t try her.

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