by Eric O’Neal, Duke TIP Intern and NCCU Graduate
The memories of my years in elementary school seem almost a lifetime ago now. The days of walking in a single file line down halls and keeping that bothersome lunch PIN are no longer necessary. Though elementary school may seem a minor step in your educational career, it lays down the foundation of your learning experience and behaviors.
It may be worth noting that from my 2nd grade through 6th grade years, every teacher I had either quit after my class moved to the next grade, or relocated to another school altogether. Especially in my language arts and English classes, subjects in which I’ve always exceled, classroom discussions and lessons seemed to always screech to a halt due to noise, unrest among my peers, and even fits of bullying.
As a very quiet child, I never had the courage or initiative to speak to the teacher, counselor, or even my parents to talk about my newfound educational deficits. Instead, I often found myself forcing my attention into our scarcely used textbooks to educate myself while my teacher attempted to quell the fighting and disruptive behavior, blocking out any and every one.
This self-reliability is good in other areas of life, but in education it can be like trying to navigate a dark maze without a lantern; you may find your way, but without guidance your progress suffers significantly.
One method to ensure you have a conducive learning environment is to separate yourself from your classroom and request a placement change request. Here are some reasons why you and your parent might want consider a placement change:
- An imbalance of your learning ability versus your peers. You may grasp concepts quicker than other students, but teachers will always value the comprehension of a subject for the whole class rather than an individual. This will, of course, lead to boredom.
- Your teacher’s teaching style doesn’t match up well with your learning style. You may be a tactile learner, but your teacher’s style may not be as hands-on as you’d like, and thus you don’t get as much out of a lesson.
- You want a smaller classroom with more engagement with the teacher. Feedback is a cornerstone of education, but one-on-one time is very scarce in an average class size of more than 20. Understanding of a confusing subject can be accelerated with feedback from a teacher.
- The subject material or course structure doesn’t fit the speed at which you learn and comprehend concepts. Boredom can set in fast, and you’ll become disengaged from the environment, which is no doubt detrimental to academic growth.
- A disruptive classroom. Learning is especially difficult with a rowdy classroom, and lessons will often be halted to calm the rowdy portion of the class. In some cases this can become an everyday thing. As well as being annoying, it is very unconducive to learning.
Discussing relocation with your school principal is better handled by your parents, so ask them for help (if they are not available, talk to a school guidance counselor about your concerns). Helpful sites to aide you and your parents in determining if a change in teacher assignment is necessary, and how to request one, can be found at the end of this article.
As I graduate college with my undergraduate in Mass Communications, it seems almost a huge life irony that I never did communicate my issues at school so that I could further my learning. Surely, I could have easily qualified and exceled in AP English classes throughout middle school, if I’d known about the option for a change of scenery.