Solution to Absenteeism and Tardies? More engaging classes.


Josh Amster

In the pre-pandemic school days of 2019, students like current juniors Josias Abera and Jeremy Medina would rush to class to avoid the tardy station.

Mariam Al-Musawi, Guest Writer

Bells ring across the halls. Students and teachers shuffle towards their classes. However, the halls are never empty. There is always someone roaming the halls. Someone hiding in the bathrooms. All are scared to get caught skipping class. Reminders go around the school that we must take our attendance seriously. Slideshows, announcements, assemblies are all in place to remind us of our decreasing attendance rates. This was two years ago, but has it really changed?

The classroom environment, the assignments, the lack of activities… all of these lead to students losing the motivation to go to class. We are still children, and as children, we need the motivation of a fun and inviting classroom.

Some Lewis teachers, like  Physics Teacher Scott Saunders, try to create this fun environment through activities for the students to enjoy. “Classroom games include quiz-like games like Kahoot and challenge-type games in which you shoot a target using math. I have a lot of doubts that these games are effective or not [in the hybrid environment] because participation is low, in my opinion, and I do not feel like it is very interesting or interactive,” Saunders said.

However, my classmates, like Junior Fiza Asif and I, noticed in both pre-pandemic and pandemic school years most of our teachers are not providing fun activities that engage the students to learn. “I noticed and discovered it truly depends on the class. Some classes are unassuming and some are engaging. [An example is] my math teacher just talks. A class that is engaging is Spanish class because we do games with animal boxes, and it’s really fun,” Asif said. 

Our classes are lacking excitement, and we need to bring back the fun into learning. Not only do we lack excitement, we lack confidence. Our classroom environments in all styles of learning, normal, hybrid, and distance, have scared students like Junior Miada Abusamra away from asking questions. “Depending on the class, I don’t participate in morning class more than afternoon classes because I’m tired. [Also], if I notice that [actively participating students] are the only ones engaging in the class, and the teacher doesn’t call on any other students, that then allows me to decide not to pay attention or not participate,” Abusamra said.

We fear failure and risk learning due to feeling judged in the classroom. “I will not participate due to fear of failure. Getting an answer wrong is the most shameful thing to me. I’d rather not talk at all then get an answer wrong,” said Junior Fiza Asif.

We start to look for other classmates to lead and save us from humiliation.

Junior Marshal Jamal is reluctant to contribute to class discussion. “Firstly, I’m shy. Sometimes I’m bored and too lazy to type in the chat box because it takes too long to type. I don’t like using my microphone because no one else is using it and I don’t feel comfortable. I’m not going to start if no one else is. It feels awkward. I’m scared of getting the answer wrong because I don’t want to look dumb and don’t want the teacher to know I didn’t learn anything,” Jamal said.

What was so shocking was knowing that students fear disappointment from their teachers and not just humiliation from other students. Our teachers, the people we rely on to teach us and send us out into the real world, have created an uncomfortable environment for us. It is very surprising that even during distance learning, students still fear from our teachers’ disappointment, even from the other side of the screen. 

With the tedious and  displeasing classes, attendance goes down. Even with distance learning making it easier for students to travel from one class to another, we still see empty “chairs.” History Teacher Christopher Erwin has noticed an attendance gap between his classes. “My AP and IB classes, attendance has actually been good. Attendance is like 90% of students, but for my regular government class, 60-70%,” Erwin said.

While we can’t reverse all the absences we have had as a whole, we mustn’t stop trying to bring students back to class. The hybrid classrooms in Lewis High School aren’t allowing students to express themselves. Our classrooms should be filled with warmth, acceptance, and relief, but instead, the classrooms in Lewis High School aren’t allowing us to express ourselves and our creating an environment of exclusion and stress.

Allowing more fun activities that incorporate learning instead of traditional assignments will allow students to learn with enjoyment. Not only that, but group activities allow students to increase their communication skills.

Teachers should also incorporate encouraging words to students once they answer a question. An example would be saying “Great thinking” or “That is an interesting way of looking at it. Thank you!” when a student gets an answer wrong. This allows for the student to not fear failure but instead feel pleased to have added to the answer for the question.

We should want students to have a breath of relief — not to hold their breath. Once we implement these solutions to our ongoing attendance issue, we will have filled classrooms for both in-person and virtual classes. Let us bring the joy of learning back into our lives once again!