Four Years

What is an issue in secondary education that you would like to see changed, and how would you implement that change?

On my first day of ninth grade, I stepped into my Spanish 1 classroom – a long, narrow room with desks arranged in a few rows backed by a wall covered in colorful posters. I had waited for years to take the opportunity to learn a foreign language, and I felt a mix of excitement, anticipation and intimidation upon entering the room. A few minutes later, a rather petite woman with long red hair walked into the room. She was my new teacher, Mrs. Wojcika, someone who would eventually guide me through four years of Spanish studies and become a close friend and confidante.I strongly believe that my relationship with Mrs. Wojcik would not have been possible had I attended a larger school with huge, impersonal classes full of undedicated students. I count it a blessing that I was able to take part in small, intimate classes where we did not just learn, we became friends working together for a common goal. In fact, many of us who studied Spanish together for all those years still keep in touch, whether some dropped out after Spanish 1 or stayed all the way through Spanish 4 AP. In addition, the small class sizes made it possible for Mrs. Wojcik to give students the individual attention they needed when they were struggling with the material, or in some cases, when the outstanding students needed an extra challenge.In order to promote small class sizes in schools, I would propose conducting all classes more like seminars, where everyone must contribute to the discussions in the classroom. For core classes I would propose allowing teachers to teach more sections instead of just a few overfilled class hours. For more advanced classes I would propose a test or GPA cutoff for students looking to enter, so that the strongest students would be rewarded with places in the class. By implementing these and other changes, more students, even in larger schools, will be able to reap the benefits of a personal and individualized education.

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