I did the interview on eight high school students from four different high schools in Texas. The aim of the interview was to show the importance of listening to students before the administration implements decisions affecting them. The inspiration behind the process is the obvious problems in our institutions like low academic performance and widespread indiscipline amongst students.
The first question I directed to the students is: what made each of the schools safe and healthy. From their responses, I realized that in schools with counselors and personal mentors, the students felt safer. The students’ responses also highlighted safety in schools with stringent rules put in place. A high percentage of the respondents said that a teacher, who enjoyed what he/her work coupled with preparedness made learning interesting.
Every student wished to see his/her input valued and be heard at the same time. Most of the students also said they desired a school where they would be free to be themselves. It was clear that schools pushed the students to behave differently and not express themselves accordingly. The final characteristic that most of the interviewees desired in their schools was a learning system relevant to the work environment and the changing global conditions. By extension, the respondents said that it would help if arts were given more input and emphasis like the other subjects since arts encourage self-expression and increased students’ chances of doing well in their future.
The next question was the top three qualities the students desired in a teacher. Most of them agreed that a teacher who took his/her time to find out if everyone had understood a lesson was the most desirable quality. They also agreed that they wanted their teachers to be their friends in that, they would be free to talk about personal issues affecting them. A big number also said that it wanted a teacher who would maintain discipline and order and punish unruly students accordingly. The three things that most of them said should be removed from their schools are unnecessary biased rules, boring school uniforms, and static day plans that gave way to boredom.
Most said that their lives in school did not relate to their lives away from school. They said that they felt compelled to conceal their feelings and personalities to fit in the school environment. School did not offer practical solutions to some of the difficulties faced at home like abuse and broken families.
The students also felt short changed socially and hinted that most of the social skills were developed away from school. Students from broken families and difficult circumstances reported behavior that depicted low self-esteem, depression, and low concentration in class. Most said they found strength and encouragement from home and it would have a direct effect on their academic and social performance.
The students’ opinions are very important in solving the problems ailing our high schools. The administration and other stakeholders in our district have to face the last option of listening to the students. To promote a positive school culture, it is important to ensure that the students are comfortable and that any issues they have are addressed to create harmony. In addition, it is important to come up with ways to make learning in school relevant.
Instructions would be communicated and followed effectively if students viewed their teachers as their friends and realized they have their best interests at heart. In addition, attractive day plans should be set up to make learning a good experience; moreover, the subjects should be flexible and dynamic.
On the part of my own professional growth, I realize I have a very great influence on the students’ behavior and therefore the overall school performance. It is clear that students have issues that affect them outside school, and that I should be vigilant enough to see and address them accordingly. Finally, I have to be enthralled by what I do for the same affects the students’ learning.