Over winter break, the administration and freshman teachers met in hopes of finding a solution to the problems that students, particularly the freshman class, have been causing in the classroom this year.
“Our freshman teachers were looking for ways to better meet the academic needs for our 9th grade students,” Assistant Principal Valerie Arbizu said. “It was a teacher-team decision to revisit a number of our school rules and put the ‘Freshman Three’ into place.”
These new rules include limiting students to four trips to the bathroom in each class for the duration of the semester through the use bathroom passes, ensuring that students consistently write in their planners, and requiring that cell phones are out of sight at all times.
The bathroom pass rules were created because teachers felt students were leaving class too frequently and not using their bathroom privileges only as necessary.
“For many students, there is a direct correlation between their success in classes and their attendance in those classes: the more often you attend, the more you learn, and the better your grade outcome,” Arbizu said.
Teachers have chosen to strongly encourage students to track their assignments and tests in a planner due to the potential lag in posting assignments due to the transition from School Loop to Canvas. The technological shift has been challenging for some teachers, but with the use of planners, this problem should no longer impact a student’s ability to keep track of their school work. Furthermore, organization and planning are essential life skills that will benefit students in college and the workforce, and teachers are looking to support students as they work on this skill.
The cell phone rule simply requires that students have their cell phones off of their desks and out of sight during class time. Students are still permitted to use their phones outside of the classroom such as during brunch or lunch.
“We know that cell phones are here to stay,” Arbizu said. “We also know that they can be a major source of distraction. Putting your phone on silent- or, even better, airplane mode- during class time will allow students to be more 'in the moment' and focused on learning.”
Freshmen had mixed opinions about the new rules and how they have affected them personally.
“I won’t be allowed to use the bathroom as often which also gives me less opportunities to stay hydrated and get water and I already use a planner,” freshman Lily Rubenstein said. “I will be a lot more careful about using my phone, though.”
Other freshmen agreed that they are not in favor of the bathroom pass rule.
“For me personally, I think that the bathroom rule is completely unnecessary, but the phone rule is understandable,” freshman Tobin Lester said.
Although these rules were specifically designed to manage issues relating to the freshman class, they have also been introduced into non-freshman classes.
“I’ve heard about the rules in almost all of my classes because they are implementing them for some senior classes as well,” senior Kelly Prashar said. “I don’t find these rules necessary as a senior. We are almost at the end of high school and we should be mature enough to care about our own education.”
Students have also questioned how effective these rules will be in solving the problems in the classroom this year.
“I don’t really think that the new rules will change anything because although everyone knows the rules, they choose not to follow them,” Rubenstein said.
“Honestly, students will still find a way to use their cell phones if they want to,” Prashar said. “I feel that the rule for phones won’t do much. Yet, the bathroom rule is definitely going to affect the freshmen and the whole school as they are no longer free to go whenever they want.”
While some students have expressed feeling constrained by the rules, the behavioral outcomes of these rules hold students to a standard that should be expected in an academic environment. The idea of new rules may be daunting to students, however teachers are optimistic about the positive impact the “Freshman Three” will have.
“I actually think the rules are pretty simple and easy to follow: use the bathroom before you go to class, put your cell phone away during class time, and write your assignments down in a planner of some sort,” Arbizu said. “Save your bathroom passes for emergencies if possible.”