Columnist discusses students’ inability to change classes

By Josie Stewart, ’21

On the first day of school, I find a seat in the back and watch the door with hopeful eyes. I always look for familiar faces and my new teacher. Even when I see them enter the classroom, I can never fully comprehend that I’ll be in this same room with that same teacher for an entire year.

Students never really have a “new” teacher. They have usually seen their face in the hall, heard stories from peers, had siblings who offered nothing but praise or have analyzed comments about their instructor on Rate My Teacher. Regardless, I have often found that this can set up kids to fail.

I walked into sophomore year horrified. As soon as I came home from schedule pickup, I showed it to my older sister who cringed at the paper. According to her and many of my friends, half of my classes were taught by people who would ruin my year.

And so, as I sat in class on the first day, I immediately hated it without even experiencing it yet.

The entire first week, I complained about teaching that was actually fine because I was clouded by the judgment of others. As the year progressed, I found that my classmates did the same thing. Students enter the year holding opinions of previous kids, and hold them true, even if there isn’t a problem.

By now, I have formed my own positive opinion about all of my teachers—except for one. I do believe that students should not look on Rate My Teacher before entering a class or automatically take on the opinions of others. Rather, they should give their instructors a chance to show what they have to offer.

What happens when you still can’t get along with a teacher? In high school, there are always students who don’t work well together, so they find someone new. Shouldn’t they be given that same option with a teacher? I could tell immediately that this class would not suit me well, and as a fairly good student, I thought I should have the opportunity to change it.

In recent years, there has been more focus on fitting teachers and their philosophies to students—not the other way around.

Although it can cause some difficulty in making schedules, you cannot force a student into a class where they don’t belong.

Personally, I would rather have a more difficult and rigorous class with a teacher I can relate with than an “easy A” class with one I don’t.

So, as I enter next year with a positive view of all my teachers, if I still cannot understand them, I believe I should be able to find one that I do.