Starting a new school year, or semester, can be challenging, as it presents unneeded nerves in the form of uncertainty and excitement. Students change classrooms, classmates, and teachers without having much say in the matter. Changing up an entire learning environment for a school subject, after an entire year or semester of a student becoming accustomed to it, can be a challenge–or an opportunity to flourish in the subject.
Sophomore Drew Engler was taught English by Allison Berryhill his freshman year. This year, he is taking the course with Randall Simpson. Engler definitely noticed the switch, ranging from the opposing classroom environments, to the general teaching styles of the different teachers. While Berryhill’s classroom is filled with many couches and posters, Simpson adapted a more traditional classroom, having students sit in assigned desks. While Engler is trying his best to adapt to the changes, he does admit it has been difficult to get used to Simpson’s teaching, which allows much more independence and student responsibility.
Taylor Williams, biology and anatomy teacher at AHS, is also aware of how changing classes can cause issues for students, as she finds some kids do great with her teaching style, but others need some extra help. While incoming sophomores may find her style a bit different than their previous science teachers, Williams notes that she teaches with an interactive notebook–a concept most students are familiar with. New for this year, Williams has incorporated a new style of notebook, one that promotes all sorts of learning styles. Formatted like a graphic organizer, the new interactive notebook is considerably visual, containing diagrams and lots of vibrant color. “Color has shown to help with memory,” Williams said.
Even with these new notebooks, Williams has noticed a few students still struggling. To combat this predicament, Williams makes sure to meet with the students to help figure out a different plan of learning and taking notes. However, not all students feel that all of their teachers are providing this solution.
Freshman Jarrett Armstrong was switched mid-year from Trace Petersen to Henry Hallgren for his American History class. Unlike some students, he found the change very refreshing, as his learning style matched better with Hallgren. While Petersen is more interactive, walking around the room and discussing topics with students, Hallgren has students take notes at their own pace. However, in the past when classroom changes caused issues, Armstrong notes that teachers were not very accommodating to students struggling with their learning styles.
Armstrong, giving advice to teachers, said he’d appreciate it if teachers asked students how they best learned. Whether they “like to read it” or need the material presented visually.
Every teacher does their job differently, benefitting all different types of students.