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The Importance of Prioritizing A Safe and Better Learning Environment for Our Students

A students perspective: Angel Elefante is Junior at Holy Spirit High School. She enjoys film making and story writing. She is currently working on writing her own movie.

Holy Spirit High School Graduation

Our students are the beloved future of our world and the fire to the bright legacy of our history. A student’s education is one of the most important things in their life. With a proper education, a student will be prepared and set up for success. The purpose of schooling is to help guide students into basic knowledge that may help them in their life and career choices. To ensure the best education, a safe and healthy learning environment is essential.

It is important to have a good learning environment to guarantee the best and most enjoyable learning experience for students. Not all students are the same, and some learn differently than others. For this reason, it is crucial that said learning environments are flexible and made to fit the needs of all students. We want to give our students the best resources to be successful and move forward in life. It is vital we prepare our generations for what they may face and the journey they choose.

To improve any learning environment, there always must be clear ways for students to be able to reach out for help. It can be difficult to ask for help even when it is needed, and students should have the reassurance to know that they can reach out. All students should feel safe and welcome, no matter who they are, their looks, their financial situation, etc. They should be able to feel like they have somewhere to belong. Schools should be places where we can encourage the creativity and growth of students. Each young mind is a sprout just beginning to grow or a clump of clay waiting to be molded. We must inspire and lead our students to grow and learn the best of what they are capable of. We can make better effort to support our students and what they do. Being in school can be difficult, and I believe adults may forget that sometimes.

I had asked a former teacher and a friend of mine a couple of questions on this topic:

In your opinion, what are some issues you find in schools and current educational environments today? How do these issues affect students?:

(Former Teacher/Current Principal): In my opinion, our current educational environments require a huge amount from teachers and students alike. We're so focused on continual improvement and progressing forward at a certain pace that we haven't allowed for much time to slow down and recognize what ways students' needs have changed or what the lasting impacts of these changes could be. I do worry for our kids!

(Junior In High School): I find that sometimes my classes have just too many students, and it makes it difficult for me as a student to learn as one who learns best through one-on-one time. With so many students in one room and only one teacher, there isn’t enough time or “teacher” for all the students to have a moment where they can work with the teacher. I also find that learning tools aren’t entirely accessible to everyone, there isn’t always enough for everyone.

What are things you think schools could do/do more of to improve their environments?

(Former Teacher/Principal): A school environment is reflective of how students and families feel welcomed, involved, and safe. So schools can really invest time in making sure they're seeking insights from their students and families to know what the environment is like from their perspective. Then schools can work to add support into any areas that are negatively affecting students' lack of belonging. You can't learn if you feel like you don't belong!

(Junior In High School): My school has recently been doing mental health talks and has become more open about talking with counselors and reaching out for help which I think has helped a lot. I wish it could be a little more open and accessible to reach more students because it’s still treated as a taboo topic and should not be. I also believe that there should be less course options for classes and electives. It can get very overwhelming to choose which ones to do, and it makes it difficult to categorize college credits for each class. It’s just very confusing in general, and I feel it could be better organized in ways that are easier for students.

What are some necessities to give students a good and proper education?

(Former Teacher/Current Principal): Students need to feel safe and supported to learn, but they also need to be held to a high standard of performance and growth. Schools should provide the opportunity for students to find their internal motivations or be given support for external motivation if they're not able to push themselves to become their best self yet.

(Junior In High School): I was thinking there should be a variety of learning styles and environments because not every student learns the same. Each student has their own way of learning and understanding things and schools should do better to help them succeed in the best way for the student.

(As a teacher/staff member) What do you do to help your students grow and become more successful? Do you think other educators should do the same?

(Former Teacher/Current Principal): As a teacher I always worked to try to find what parts of my classroom or lessons made students feel like it was built for them. I like to emphasize that there's a huge diversity in how humans learn and at what pace they learn. In a perfect lesson, students should leave feeling empowered by their ability to learn and interested in extending that learning. Does that always happen? No. But I liked to try!

(As a student/former student) What do you need in a learning environment to learn efficiently and become more successful? Do you have these things accessible to you? If not, should schools include these things more?

(Former Teacher/Current Principal): And as a student I was a perfectionist who felt like I needed to change to fit what the classroom was asking of me. Now as an adult I recognize my need to be flexible in how I learn. I'm the worst behaved person in meetings because I need to stand and move and talk to process things. When I really get excited about what I'm learning I end up with a huge spike of energy that turns into frustration if I don't have an outlet to voice my ideas and get feedback. Just those simple 30 second talking breaks are huge for me as a learner!

(Junior In High School): For me, things that help me are a lot more notes and less lectures along with group work. I find notes helpful because they help me remember things and are also something I can go back to for study and reference. Group work forces me to be more engaged because it’s not only my grade that relies on work, it’s my partners as well.  Since I’m working with others and I want to do well, I make sure to pull my weight in the project.

 Being a student myself, I feel it is because we are young, we do not get enough credit for the work we put in to move forward in our lives. It can be a struggle managing school work, outside activities, and our lives at home. I believe all students deserve recognition for the best work they put in as they move forward. Sometimes a little praise and acknowledgement can go a long way. As a community, we should make better efforts to create better and safer learning environments for our students. Society, as a whole, should recognize the potential and talent before us and nurture it. We must prioritize our students, for they are the future of our world to come.

Credit and Thanks to:
(Former Teacher/Current Principal): Geraldine Janansky
(Junior In High School): A. Oliva

Angel Elefante