Hello, my name is Omari and I am a junior. After high school I am thinking about studying computer science at college. I am here today to talk about how being in a consistently safe and supportive school would help me learn better. At school, some of the adults on staff do their best to keep us motivated and engaged. I wish that this was true in all of my classes so that I could deeply understand the material I would like to learn. I am sharing my experience in the hopes that this wish becomes a reality and so that students like me are set up for success in the future.
Sometimes I find it difficult to deeply learn in classes that I do want to do well in. When I turn in my work, I can tell if my teachers have put effort into looking over it. I get underwhelmed when they don’t give me feedback on how to do better, even if I know that I was confused by some of the material. In class, I can feel like I’m not really involved in my learning because some of my teachers will go through lessons without checking to make sure that my peers and I understand what we need to know. I also feel a little demotivated when I notice that the classroom is unorganized, like if chairs aren’t pushed in. This makes it harder for me to learn because it brings down the mood of the class and makes it seem like what we are learning is not that important. I don’t like having this mindset but I am not always sure what to do if the teacher is letting it go.
Luckily, I am also in classes and afterschool programs that feel like safe and supportive environments for me to learn and grow in. For example, the REACH program offers me tutors who listen to my interests and work hard to provide opportunities related to them. This makes me feel like I am part of a community and motivates me to keep working hard in school. Some of my teachers are also very helpful. My coding teacher, for instance, always asks our class questions before moving on because she knows what might be difficult for individual students to understand. Teachers like her also put a lot of effort into giving us feedback on our work so that we know exactly how we can improve. I feel like there is a difference between doing the work just to do it and doing the work to understand it, and I know that I get more out of classes when my teachers focus on the latter. Having adults like these support me makes me more invested in my learning which also helps me better understand the material itself. This also makes it easier for me to approach people at school about any other problems I might have and know that I can overcome any challenges. I feel like I have things under control when I am in these spaces and wish that my peers and I could keep that feeling in every class we have.
I hope that hearing my experience will be helpful in making sure that schools are places where all students can learn and grow. I am glad that I have been able to share my voice and think that it is important for all of my peers to be able to do so too. This would improve the quality of education across our state. We all want our time in school to be used well and find it easier to learn when we know that the adults around us care and are willing to help us. I hope that you choose to continue working on making schools safe and supportive so that my peers and I are set up for success for generations to come. I also ask you to make sure that student voice is part of safe and supportive schools so that our stories can continue to be heard. Thank you for all that you have already done and for your time today.
“I feel like there is a difference between doing the work just to do it and doing the work to understand it, and I know that I get more out of classes when my teachers focus on the latter. Having adults like these support me makes me more invested in my learning which also helps me better understand the material itself.”
“For example, the REACH program offers me tutors who listen to my interests and work hard to provide opportunities related to them. This makes me feel like I am part of a community and motivates me to keep working hard in school.”