Student concerns about technology and having enough teachers were brought to the Brainerd School Board on Monday, April 22.
Brainerd High School senior Maddie Schuld came forward in the reunion’s public forum and first spoke about the sometimes overuse of technology in classrooms.
“Google Classroom is a really helpful tool. It really helps students connect with teachers when they’re away or want additional information,” Schuld said. “But unfortunately I’ve been aware of some discussion that shows it’s not necessarily as helpful as you might think.”
As a free web service, Google Classrooms allows teachers to create paperless assignments and students to share their work with instructors online instead of having to print documents.
Schuld told board members of a case where she overheard a student on the phone, probably with his mother, discussing how he couldn’t turn in an English assignment over a long weekend because he would be at his father’s house, where he has no internet connection.
“What I took away from that is that even though we have the student device ratio of 1:1, people will still end up falling through the cracks,” Schuld said, noting that those students are often those who already feel alienated by their participation in the free or reduced lunch program.
According to the Minnesota Department of Education’s online school report card, approximately 40% of students in the Brainerd School District are eligible for a free or reduced price lunch, and nearly 30% of high school students are eligible for the program.
Despite its usefulness, Schuld said Google Classroom is too often used to replace traditional teaching methods, especially, she said, when numerous studies show that writing helps students process and synthesize information more than typing.
According to a 2014 article in “Psychological Science,” researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer suggest that students who take notes by hand during class process information better than those who use laptops. According to the study, students who type notes tend to transcribe lectures verbatim instead of processing the information and reframing it in their own words, which can interfere with learning.
“So personally, for a lot of my teachers,” Schuld said, “I actually wrote assignments instead of typing them in order to learn more about the information.”
Next, she spoke about what appears to be a shortage of teachers for some electives, particularly art classes.
Schuld said she knows dozens of students, including herself, who signed up for art electives but were placed in study halls instead because there weren’t any. had only one teacher to teach one or two sections of these courses. And the pottery room, she added, remains empty for at least an hour during the day.
“I’m sure there are other cogs under the surface,” Schuld said, noting, however, that it looks like a teacher shortage from a student’s perspective.
She noted her excitement, even as a graduating senior, for the district’s new facilities in the coming years, but reminded the board that it’s what’s inside that counts.
“At the end of the day, our schools are only as good as the staff we have in them,” Schuld said. “You could have the most expensive and beautiful building possible, but if there are no teachers in the halls, it really doesn’t seem to serve me, as a student, or others. students with the best possible needs.”
Board members thanked Schuld for his comments, but did not respond, per the board’s open forum policy.