By Kathleen Schaefer

Group projects for many teachers are perfect situations where students can help each other learn. For many students, the word means free time.
Too often, group work only provides an opportunity for personal conversations and obnoxious jokes, while one or two students receive the entire responsibility of the project. The inevitable differences in skill level, ambition, and concentration lead not to collaboration, but to a lack of responsibility in everyone who attempts to do as little as possible.
Students only become responsible if they must rely on their own work ethic. Group projects often only mean people will try to partner with that one classmate who will complete all of their work. Although groups can, in some situations, create the desired learning experience, in most classes individual work is ultimately the most beneficial choice for everyone.

By Elvis Wong

Procrastinating and putting off homework is easy and natural. Most students dread the responsibilities and workload provided with their classes. Personally, it pains me to say this, but I find that homework is conducive to a healthy educational experience. Although mountainous piles of worksheets, essays, reading assignments, and studying can lead to school-induced stress — gray hairs, frequent headaches, muscle tension, and other detrimental risks to our health — homework is indispensable and essential in order for students to practice and retain what they have learned during class lectures. It is only when students reach a breaking point due to the amount of homework that they receive that teachers should consider if they are doing more harm than good to their students both physically and mentally.

By Nicole Santos
Most students have had their share of teachers shouting at the class to settle down and be quiet. For some, students are the cause of the problem: constantly interrupting the teacher’s lesson, constantly talking to their friends, and constantly creating distractions, whether to grab all the attention or because they are just bored. For those of us who actually want to learn, no matter how dreadfully boring or difficult the lesson might be, this common ordeal is frustrating.
Most students have experienced both types of classroom environments. Not many people enjoy listening to a teacher lecture, but when students demonstrate unacceptable behavior, less time is spent on the curriculum; learning something from teachers each class is preferred over listening and watching them try to restore the class to an attentive state.
It is a teacher’s job to keep the class under control. It is a student’s job to be considerate and behave in a respectable manner.

By Nate Hromalik

Ugh. Ick. Arg. These are common sounds to be heard upon the announcement of “Test next class.”
Who loves tests? Even people who love school hate or fear tests. For students with 4.0 GPAs, their grades prove more at stake against percentage-changing examinations than others: exams worth 20-50% of that grade is incredibly daunting.
Yet the fact remains that people spend more time worrying about tests than actually taking them. If students learn what teachers present in class, retain knowledge through homework, and study the details of what may appear on a specific test, stressing and cramming become unnecessary. If students need to cram or are baffled by the details of test (knowing the information of the class yet remaining unable to demonstrate such knowledge) then the creator of the test is to blame.
The choice is left to the individual student to trust what they learned in class, breathe, and test. Because aside from being summations of the reason for being in school, to learn, tests are given every day: using information, applying experience, and reacting to situations.

By Johanna Fleischman

Some classrooms are scattered with paper; others reek with filthy desks; many contain tread, dirty floors; some have walls covered by reports, photos, posters, and announcements. Undoubtedly, the neatness of a classroom affects the learning atmosphere.
Upon entering classrooms, the smell or chaos of the room creates first impressions. Although neatness does affect initial opinions, the true learning environment does not come from the order of the room, but the manner in which teachers utilize their personal organization.
Messiness does not always deter students from enjoying a class, and neatness does not immediately cause students to like a class. Although the teacher is largely responsible for the order of the classroom, if supplies can be located and desks are available, free from grit, the character of a classroom can be accepted, regardless if the room is neat or haphazard.

By Aimee Drew

In a world where a high level of education is the surest way to gain success, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a strong secondary education, which is the foundation for future learning.
For those who are not satisfied with the public school system, there are other options. The number of alternative schools, such as private, Montessori, and Waldorf schools, is rising because parents are deciding that the quality and enjoyment of the education is worth the cost of tuition. In Sonoma County, the alternate schools include Cardinal Newman, St. Vincent, and Sonoma Academy, and Live Oak.
The main benefit of alternative education is the freedom that the schools have in terms of curriculum, and the smaller ratio of students per teacher. Because student knowledge does not have to fit the specifics outlined by the state, teachers can modify their instruction to fit the needs and interests of individual students and adapt more easily to our ever-changing world.

By Forrest Wang

The teacher’s organization practices are what make a good teacher. Not teachers who are organized in the sense of clean desks and neat folders, but teachers who are eloquent in thought, teachers who are able to construct useful lesson plans, and teachers who are able to make their words understandable to everyone.
Whether or not a teacher assigns a little homework or a lot is entirely up to them. Some of the best teachers do not require any, while some have a lot. Regardless of that fact, classrooms operate the best when teachers have everything down: they know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it; they know how to organize a lesson plan, so that everyone is able to learn more productively.

By Sean Kimball

Teachers definitely play a significant role in the success of students: they dictate the manner in which information is taught to their pupils, as well as making important decisions on what material will be covered in the class; they either positively or negatively influence student’s motivation to learn based upon the behavior, personality, and interactions they portray in and outside the classroom. Teachers have the ability to establish positive relationships with their students and be a mentor for those seeking advice in various aspects of life. While a teacher may win the approval and short-lived attention of a class through being casual and assigning minimal homework, often students do not respect that teacher. For a teacher to be most effective, he or she must win the approval of the class while simultaneously receiving respect from the class.