Image credit: Gemma Corby

School is the Most!

Student voices from various NYC public high schools during the pandemic.

Dear Educator,

This is LONG overdue.

But every time I want to send this to you, I stop because I see how tired, stressed and frustrated you are.

I see it in your face when you look into the screen trying to manage all of the screen prompts. I hear it in your voice when you sound like you are going to break down because no one talks back to you during instruction. And I feel it in how everything is so disorganized.

I hear about how tired teachers are everyday — through our advisors, our parents, the news.

And it’s bad enough that I worry for my family and friends but now I am also worrying about you because I am watching you in real time break apart right in front of me.

So I keep holding back sending this letter.

But I can’t anymore.

I know you are tired but if you send me lots of links and emails, and so do my 6 other educators, then I get confused and don’t know what to do.

In fact, a lot of times when I am absent from your class, it’s because I haven’t been able to figure out which of the 18 meeting invites I got during the week for all of my classes is the right one.

And I no longer read the emails because I know that I will (a) not understand what you are asking for, or (b) get more work assigned.

All of my educators have everything scattered on websites I never heard of before.

I think you forgot that I have 6 other educators and when all of you are stacking worksheets, assignments, projects and emails, it feels like I’m climbing a mountain in the middle of a blizzard.

School is the Most!

Sometimes routine is very good for a teenager but for me doing the same thing every day is exhausting. I was more excited to learn when I actually went to school but now I don’t look forward to it because it’s the same thing every day.

I am going through the motions and I can honestly say I haven’t learned anything since last year. I just write what my educators ask me to but if I don’t understand their instructions than I don’t do anything.

Now I worry more about the grade I am going to get instead of the actual education I am getting. I just want to be able to pass because I know that in June we will get the chance to convert our grades to pass or fail so I don’t care anymore about an A, B or even C. I just want a pass.

And I know you are frustrated because we don’t turn on our cameras but do you know the million reasons why I can’t do that?

Reason #3: My camera does not work.

Reason #5: I have huge body issues and what if someone pins me and now I appear on someone else screen full size. Oh no! I can’t even imagine me full screen on someone else’s laptop.

Reason #9: I am sure you have a clean, beautifully decorated home but I don’t and I don’t want you to see my home.

Reason #23: My dad likes to walk around without a t-shirt.

Reason #48: My family works late so everyone is asleep in my house so the lights are off in my house so even if I turn on the camera, you can’t see me.

I can go on but I think you get the point.

Every day is the same cycle.

All I hear is this is due tomorrow, this is due next week and it really is messing up a lot of my friend’s minds.

And then when we finally think we caught up, another major project becomes due for the next day.

All these deadlines I have are making it more stressful for me and ends up leading to more missing work because I just can’t get it together to do any of these assignments.

A lot of work is stacking up and I am struggling to figure out which one is the most important assignment to finish first because all of my educators want their assignments done.

On our days off — we are not off.

It’s 7 days of school.

During weekends, I check my email every 5 minutes to see if something new has been assigned.

It feels like a lot of work is assigned on a whim.

There is no context for your assignments and it’s Hard to ask for help when we are offline since educators are off on weekends — BUT WE ARE NOT!

We can’t do everything you want and we just can’t keep up. Yesterday I didn’t spend any time with my family because I had to finish my coursework.

School has put me literally at edge.

Since we have been online, I don’t get regular periods because I am always stressed. I’m not feeling mentally well but I am really trying to get it together especially since I’ve gained some strength and I want to get things done while that strength is here. I am worried about many of my friends’ mental health which obviously affects their schoolwork. I try to do work with them after school to cheer them up and keep them going.

I wasn’t able to go to sleep at night like a lot of my friends but then I realized that’s because since I do all of my live classes and assignments in my room, my bedroom is no longer a haven for relaxation. It’s become a place I associate with work so I can’t go to sleep.

I used to stream videos on my laptop and my cellphone was my best friend but now I’m Tired of my phone and laptop since I’ve been more on them than I ever have been before.

In fact, most of the things that use to be my “safety” tools — things I used to decompress and escape — I now hate. My outlets are now my prison — my tools have been weaponized.

Every year I would ask for a cell phone or some other tech gadget for my birthday or the holidays. Now, it’s the last thing I want since I associate it with school.

The only motivation I have right now is getting into a good college.

There’s no difference between school and after school — — I’m always on school. Even on snow days! What’s up with that! We even lost our snow days!

So what I am trying to tell you is that right now I need you to understand how I feel. It’s not that I don’t want to succeed or that I can’t succeed. It’s nothing personal with you. It’s just that right now School is the Most!

Sincerely,

Your tired, depressed, stressed, anxious and frustrated otherwise diligent student.

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Laura Mourino

Laura Mourino

7 Followers

Education Activist. Math Adjunct Professor — Baruch and Hunter College (CUNY) , The New School and NYC public school Math Educator (Harvest Collegiate HS)