Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

What My Students Love About School | Teacher Talk

Last week on Valentine’s Day I asked my Teacher Pathway students what they love about school. After some groaning and jokes about the final bell, we got serious.

Students love the routine of school. There’s comfort in knowing what comes next, what can be counted on, and what’s expected. Routines are also inherently linked to a sense of purpose in that they are developed in order to achieve a goal. In contrast, the British Journal of Educational Psychology notes that a lack of routine often results in a lack of motivation.

Students love the growth that school provides them. Though they may complain in the midst of a difficult task, the productive struggle pays off in feelings of accomplishment, autonomy, and purpose. One student noted that he feels like a different person when comparing who he was when school started in August to when it ended in May and that his growth is not only academic but also emotional and social.

Unsurprisingly, many students love coming to school because they see their friends. While lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic happen every day at school, non-academic lessons are also happening. Students learn how to find friends, make friends, navigate conflict, mend relationships, and maintain relationships. Schools also provide an opportunity to diversify one’s circle of friends and acquaintances.

Whether they are participating or watching, students love the activities associated with school. Through activities students say they discover their talents, develop important character traits, find friends and mentors, enjoy a sense of belonging, and push themselves to grow and improve. Extracurriculars are not just extra. According to a study out of Texas A&M, they are essential supports to the learning that occurs in classrooms in that they help students develop perseverance, engagement, and a sense of community, which usually results in academic and behavioral gains.

For forty years, I have been in school first as a student and then as a teacher. Even though school has its challenges, my love for it far outweighs any difficulty. Like my students, I too love the routine that gives my life structure, the growth that keeps me sharp, the relationships that hold me up, and the activities that bring me joy. What a privilege to love my life’s work!

Gina Benz has taught for over 23 years in South Dakota. She currently teaches Teacher Pathway (a class she helped develop), English 3, English 3 for immigrant and refugee students, and AP English Language at Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls, as well as Technology in Education at the University of Sioux Falls.

In 2015 Gina was one of 37 educators in the nation to receive the Milken Educator Award. Since then she has written and spoken on a state and national level about teacher recruitment and grading practices. Before that she received the Presidential Scholar Program Teacher Recognition Award and Roosevelt High School’s Excellence in Instruction Award in 2012 and the Coca-Cola Educator of Distinction Award in 2007.