Letter to teachers: Down with structured Down Week classes

The following is an open letter addressed to the teachers of SIS as  a proposal for the benefit of all: Teachers, it is time for you to have some faith in us, and yourselves. For a semester, you taught us meticulously, and we studied diligently. Trust that you have done your job well and that we have learned all that we need. During Down Week, certain teachers chose to review while others continued to cover new material, as the needs of classes vary. Teachers who reviewed did so in different ways—some led review sessions  while others prepared worksheets or group activities to  present and review material in new ways. While we appreciate these efforts, there is no need for such structured review. For non-AP classes, teacher-student interaction is a better method of review during Down Week rather than a one-size-fits-all methodology.

You already taught the material we need to know, and most of us simply need to review our notes to recall this information. But some of us may need more help than others. Some students may have difficulty understanding a certain concept or may not know how to study for certain types of assessments. By identifying these students, you would be helping more confident students internalize the subject matter, and assisting those who actually require more assistance.

We have never really had significant amounts of time to review with teachers. Office hours have been open, but it was rare that class time was devoted to student-teacher interaction—the interaction was usually between the teacher and the class. Greater opportunities for student-teacher interaction in class during Down Week, the time period for us to focus on academics, would allow for more effective studying, review and retention.

There may be concerns raised about the ability of students to conduct our own review in class. You may be concerned that students will go off-task in class and not review at all. If so, monitor the class to make sure kids are studying material. But in spite of the fact that I have loved listening to your lectures, I did not need them when I was studying for my exams. What we need during Down Week in the future is individual review time. Give us that opportunity. Have some faith in your teaching; have some faith in us.