15 Questions About Your Life in School: A Special Forum for Students and Teachers

15 Questions About Your Life in School: A Special Forum for Students and Teachers

What can you show or tell us that might help explain what it’s like to be an educator or a student in a secondary school right now?

That’s the broad question we’re asking anyone who is interested in contributing to our first challenge of the 2023-24 school year. Our goal? To create a collective portrait of what it means to be in high school today, as told by those living it. You can learn more here.

To get you inspired, we’re posing 15 additional questions that ask for a little more detail. We want to know who you are and how that identity affects your life at school. We want to know how you learn, or teach, best — and what challenges you face. And we want to know what your school is like, what’s special about it, what role it plays in your community, and how the world outside affects what happens in the classroom and hallways.

Answer any or all of these questions, as you like. Use them as journal prompts and respond in the privacy of your own notebook. Use them for discussion, and start a conversation with a classmate or colleague. Or, post your thoughts here, in our comments section, and join what we hope will become a lively and useful conversation. (You are welcome to identify yourself with initials in lieu of a full name.)

Want more? Here is a free collection of recent New York Times pieces on all aspects of education today that might further jump-start your ideas. Scroll through and see what gets your attention.

Then, choose one or more of these questions to answer:

Questions about school, learning and identity:

  • What is challenging about your life in school? Why?

  • Where do you find meaning or joy?

  • Where on your campus do you feel most comfortable? Where do you feel least comfortable? Why?

  • Who are the people you look forward to seeing during your school day? What role do they play in your life?

  • Under what conditions do you learn, or teach, best? What gets in the way of that?

  • What is something you have learned, or taught, in 2023 that you especially value? Why?

  • Students: What do you wish your teachers knew? Educators: What do you wish your students knew?

Questions about your school and its culture:

  • What’s special or unique about your school — whether for good or for ill?

  • What small details about your school could tell a larger story about its students or teachers, its culture, or its role in your community?

  • How would you change your school or its culture if you had the power to?

Questions about the news media and about the role of education in our society:

  • How do you think the times we are living in are shaping your educational or teaching experience? That is, what outside forces significantly affect what happens in your school?

  • What do outsiders, including the news media, get wrong about what it’s like to be an educator or student right now?

  • What can you show or tell us that might help make that portrait more interesting, nuanced, complete or real?

One last question:

If addressing these questions helped you surface something you would like to explore further, consider participating in our contest. You can send a submission about any aspect of your life in high school, small or large, and you can do it in words or images, audio or video. Learn more here.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public and may appear in print.

Our regular daily Student Opinion questions will resume in September. Find many, many more here. Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate these prompts into your classroom.