Show me the teachers

A few weeks ago, my brother got his eighth grade schedule. I was probably more excited about it than he was, as a rush of nostalgia for the Middle School overwhelmed me along with the familiar names of his teachers: “Salerno, Karen” and “Dohr, Jennifer.”

I then glanced over at my schedule, only a list of course numbers, course titles, and X days, completely devoid of any information about my teachers.
I
 should not receive less information than my little brother. Either both lower and upper campus students should know who their teachers are or both should be deprived – and I think the goal of this school is to give its students more information, not less.

However, in recent years, we have been moving in the opposite direction, with more and more information missing from our August schedules. Beginning several years ago, our teacher information was no longer listed.

This year, even more information is gone: no more room numbers. With room numbers, smart, curious students could figure out which teachers they have based upon their classroom numbers: for example, Martha Wheelock always teaches in Rugby 200.

So when I suggest unifying the two campus policies, I can imagine a simple modification: removing teacher information and room numbers from middle school schedules as well. But the solution should be to provide students on both campuses with their teacher information in August, along with their first schedules, and not just because I’m insatiably curious and want to know who my teachers are.

Under the current system, some students can find out who their teachers are from someone they know. Some deans will let them know; while at Edinburgh many students found out from a teacher; students who worked in the middle school bookstore knew.

No matter how hard the school may try to keep teacher information under lock and key, it will leak somehow, and knowledge is power. When the information inevitably escapes, some students will have an unfair advantage in manipulating their schedules to get the teachers they want, simply based upon their connections. That system is unfair to the rest of us students who languish during the last half of August waiting to find out our teachers.

No, I’m not looking for every student to choose their own teachers along with their classes in March. I’m not proposing that switching teachers be a complete free-for-all until some teachers’ classes are stuffed with students and other teachers are abandoned. I understand that classes also need to be gender balanced and roughly equal in size, and that the entire scheduling process is very intricate and complicated. I’m not proposing that all of these important details be thrown out the window so that I can know my teachers.

I just want to know who my teachers are before the first day of classes. If I dislike my schedule, including my teachers, for any reason, I want the deans to try their best to accommodate my requests. Our goal should be to maximize the happiness of each individual student with their schedule, not to maximize the efficiency of the scheduling process.

One of the many fine attributes of our school is the incredible freedom it gives us. Transitioning from elementary school to seventh grade, I can still remember the shock of having completely free periods.

Every student can decide which classes to take, within reasonable limits and requirements. Don’t like science? Drop it. Love history? Take three senior year. Our deans are here to guide us, but our school experience is guided ultimately by ourselves.

After all that freedom, not being told who our teachers are is a real slap in the face.

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