Change in school structure impacts classroom environment, student-teacher relationships


Chloe Ma

Students in grades 9-11 eat lunch in the cafeteria May 10. Sophomore Anokha Nathan was both excited and concerned about attending school in person with three grades after more than a year.

Noa Appelbaum, Health and Wellness Editor

School is now as close to normal as it will get this year as most students in grades 9-11 are currently attending in person since seniors began their May Projects May 10. With the sudden change in school structure, students and teachers feel that the classroom experience has become more stimulating, and they are able to become closer with others, despite needing to readjust to the crowded school setting.

Sophomore Anokha Nathan initially felt a mix of excitement and concern about attending in person school with three grades after more than a year. 

“The seniors leaving allowed for a lot more people to come back, and that’s definitely very intimidating,” Anokha said. “I didn’t expect this many people to be there.”

Anokha said that small shifts in the school dynamic has resulted in more changes that she had trouble adjusting to at first.

“Before, the hallways were really empty, and we could get to class very leisurely,” she said. “Now, it’s bittersweet — bitter because it’s very crowded but sweet because you know it’s getting back to the way it was.”

In terms of changes in academic settings, Anokha has noticed that she has less time to finish homework in between classes like she used to during online school, but has been more motivated to use her time efficiently since seeing people in person. 

“Seeing my friends persist — they, like, really try to squeeze in all their work into these little free periods — has definitely made me want to utilize my time a lot better,” Anokha said. “My friends are really pushing me to do my work.”

Two teachers had generally positive things to say about the new in person learning environment. Math teacher Fionnuala Ward, who teaches multiple grade levels, said that in person learning has made teaching easier.

According to Ms. Ward, having multiple grades at once has made it seem like much more of a real class. She said that one of the only struggles she’s experienced is adjusting to meeting people in person again.

“I love seeing people I haven’t seen at all before,” Ms. Ward said, “although it’s kind of weird because I feel like I know them but have never seen their faces.”

There wasn’t that group dynamic on the screen, and there wasn’t that classroom bonding throughout the year.

— Sharon Housinger

Sharon Housinger, whose neuroscience class included juniors and seniors, said that juniors typically open up more after the seniors go on May Project. This year, however, this change in juniors was less noticeable since they did distance learning most of the year. 

“There wasn’t that group dynamic on the screen, and there wasn’t that classroom bonding throughout the year,” Ms. Housinger said. “So although we love the seniors, it’s less weird to see them leave.”

Ms. Housinger is also noticing a more relaxed environment in the classroom as the year comes to a close. She hopes to establish a solid group dynamic once the students adapt to the new in person learning environment.