Talking with teachers


In a survey created by the staff of The Northern Light, students voiced their concern about how the teachers run their classroom. As a group, the five of us met with the third floor World Language and English teachers to bring to light the issues the student body felt were important. Here are the results:


Student Complaint: Non-Specific Assignment Instructions and Due Dates

By Alaina Taylor
What the teachers had to say: “Communication is the key,” said Mrs. Canenguez, PN Spanish teacher. It’s no secret that assignments have been known to trip kids up when the instructions seem ambiguous to them. However, the most common course of action in this circumstance is to create a mediocre assignment, praying for a passing grade. The teachers recommend to ask questions! Email or ask in class, teachers are there to answer your questions, believe it or not. “If they complain to their friends and their parents…and have never talked with the teachers, how can it be resolved?” said Ms. Nott, English teacher. The teachers want to help their students, not make things more complicated. “[We strive for] clarity and direction in our classrooms,” said Nott. Getting students to receive the best possible grade they can is a common goal that should unite the students and teachers’ interests and allow them to communicate better.


Student Complaint: Homework

By Hannah Teerman

What the teachers had to say: “When we give homework, teachers have homework, too, which is grading theirs,” said Ms. Wangler, an English teacher at Portage Northern. Although students are likely found complaining about the homework teachers give, they are not the only ones who have to take time out of their days to go through the surplus material. “[The homework] is required by law,” said Ms. Bowen, a Forensics coach and English teacher at PN, so there is not much they can do about it.  Many students, believe the teachers should give less of the ‘bothersome’ homework. However, it is actually practice for the tests, and it is beneficial to have more practice outside of class so they are prepared for in-class assignments. In addition to preparing for tests,  it is always a good idea to talk to the teacher about any questions about the homework during class or ask questions through email. Instead of complaining about the homework, whether it is unwanted or misinterpreted, consider the fact it actually does help, and we really do not have it that bad.


Student Complaint: Hypocritical classroom behavior

By Gabby Childers


Teacher Response:  “I’m still trying to find something that’s wrong with myself. When you’re perfect, you don’t have to revise yourself,” said Mr. Crocker, English teacher at Northern while responding to the student complaint of hypocritical classroom behavior. Unfortunately, not all teachers can be flawless like Crocker, and students seem to share the thought that teachers are sometimes unfair in regards to their classroom rules. While teachers may say no phones or no eating in their class, they seem to be checking their phones or snacking on an apple every couple minutes. However, they have their reasons. “We spend seven hours in our classrooms, there is nowhere else for us to eat. In between classes, we have to watch kids in the hallway and teach,” said Spanish teacher Ms. Paynich. Teachers also have reasons to why they may be using their phones. Ms. Wangler said, “if there’s something going on outside (of school), I’ll tell my students: ‘If I check my phone it’s because of this or that that’s going on.’” Communication could easily solve all of this drama with teachers being hypocritical. “I think that most adults in the building would be more willing to fix the problem, rather than continue it,” said Ms. Bowen.



Student Complaint: Condescension/ Bad examples

By: Kayla Jackson

Teacher Response: “We don’t do that, do we?” asked Nott on condescension. Most teachers do not even realize when they are being condescending, but sometimes what they say just doesn’t come across the way they meant it to. “I will use [student] errors to help teach the class;if they participate, I’ll say ‘no that’s not right, but how can we fix it’,” said Ms. Paynich. Most teachers, when using student examples that are incorrect, are using them to help teach the class, not to make fun of the student.The collective teacher response to using incorrect student examples was that if it makes the student uncomfortable, all they need to do is communicate and solve the problem together.” I would hope nobody went into teaching to be mean to kids,” said Ms. Bowen when responding the condescension complaint.”From what I’ve seen, most of the teachers try to say something positive even if the student is 100% wrong,” said Bowen. In an interview all of the teachers agreed that with more communication from the students, they can begin to work on the complaints students have lead against them.


Student Complaint: Bullying in the classroom

By Megan McKenzie

Teacher Response: “Nobody should feel bullied at school- we need to put that to a stop,” said Mrs. Nott. Bullying has been the target topic for prevention at nearly every school in the last five years. Portage Northern does a fairly good job preventing bullying, but if the surveys revealed complaining, then obviously the problem still exists. “We don’t always hear everything,” said Ms. Bowen, “I’m certainly not making an excuse for us, but it isn’t easy to tell from the front of the room.” Teachers at Portage Northern would probably try to stop the bullying immediately if they knew it was happening. It becomes the students’ problems when they do not report what is happening to their teachers. “It is all about communication,” said Nott. Some students even said they felt as if their teachers were bullying them! To this, the teachers responded that they did not realize if they were being mean and sometimes can be a little too sarcastic. “You have to say like 25 positive things to make up for one negative thing,” said Ms. Bowen. And Portage Northern Teachers certainly try. No teacher means to bully their students. If they did, then why would they be teachers?