Lack of Student Engagement


Teagan Knutson

Students in Jane Kovatch’s Biology Honors class work independently during first period on Nov 4. Many teachers are seeing less engagement this year than in past years.

The 2020-2021 school year at Hayes high school has brought many changes, one being the amount of students in classes.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, students have been given the option to stay home and pursue online learning instead of going to school everyday. Students who do not choose online learning have been split into two groups who go different days of the week to minimize contact.
Along with many beneficial results including less crowding, a shortened school day, and a safer place to learn, there are also negative ones. Separating the students has caused them to feel less comfortable sharing in class.
“Sometimes my teachers will ask questions to the whole class and she’s expecting someone to answer, but people feel awkward raising their hands or shouting it out,“ junior Lauren Matz said.
Some teachers have tried to make classrooms a more comfortable environment to encourage students to participate more.
Math teacher Kathy Kraus said she does this by asking questions to engage students and in other ways as well.
“I try to be funny,” Kraus said. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it’s horribly embarrassing and it doesn’t work, but that’s what teaching is all about.”
Kraus also said she feels that there is less socialization in school and that even though students are paying attention, they are not as social as before.
Despite these efforts some students still find it difficult to speak out during class. Students who found it hard to participate prior to the changes have been struggling even more.
“I didn’t talk that much before, but I think it is harder because there’s not that many people and you dont wanna be the only one talking,” senior Juliana Lardizabal said.
Lardizabal also said she feels more comfortable speaking when not everyone is focused on her and she is surrounded by her friends.
Although some students are finding it hard to participate, others are bringing positive light to the situation.
Matz said that although it can be harder to speak out she finds it easier to focus with less distractions in the classroom.
Even though there are pros to having smaller classes, most still want to go back to the way things were before.
“I wish it was normal because I miss having my friends in the class,” Lardizabal said.
If students do happen to fall behind because they are finding it hard to speak out, they are able to obtain individual help during class if needed.
Kraus said she feels students aren’t happier this year but that they might be able to get more help in order to succeed.
“I think we’re all doing it out of necessity,” Kraus said. “I think the idea of it is that you could get more help if you needed it, so that’s a plus but I would not say students seem happier this year.”