I have only a few years left of being a student as of now, which is both a scary and liberating thought. I think that many teachers, especially older ones, sometimes forget what it felt like to be a student and lose their ability to empathize with them as a result. In order to prevent this from happening to me in the future, I will use this assignment as an opportunity to document my experiences of being a student throughout the years, starting at the beginning: preschool.
When it comes to preschool, all I remember was playing outside all day and nap times. I honestly hardly remember anything from that time, so maybe it doesn’t make sense to have a preschool section in this post. But for the sake of encompassing my entire academic experience, I will persevere.
One of the few things I remember is that I did not take full advantage of nap time as a preschooler, which I regret very much now. For some reason, I didn’t get tired like the other kids and wanted to continue playing during our sleepy times. If I could go back in time, I’d give preschooler Lannie this Spotify playlist that I use almost nightly to fall asleep now.
As an elementary student, I remember being a little bit crazy. Some of my friends who went to elementary school with me still like to bring up how I used to bite them on the playground. I don’t really remember much of actually biting people (thankfully), but I do remember my mom being absolutely pissed when she found out. Not my brightest moment in life.
Yes, I was the weird kid on the playground in the past, but now I consider myself a relatively normal person who no longer bites people. This experience will remind me in the future that even though a child may act really weird in youth, there is still a chance that they will not be as weird when they grow up.
Kumon was a big part of my life in elementary school. For those who were lucky enough to have never heard of it, Kumon is an educational company that focuses on math and reading. It’s basically a cram school. I studied math in Kumon and was completely miserable. I would do everything I could to evade having to complete my work and go to the Kumon classroom. I often got in trouble for it, but all those scoldings did not help with my lack of motivation. Eventually, I convinced my parents to let me quit which was one of the happiest moments of my life. Yet ironically, I went back to Kumon to work there as a high schooler.
I’m in no way trying to slander Kumon. To prove it, I will even provide a video below on how Kumon helps students in case people were interested in having their children enroll.
I actually think Kumon was really helpful, but just not for all students. There was little diversity in the way kids learned; You were just handed packets of problems to complete every week. There are many kids out there that flourish under Kumon’s instruction, but there are also many that do not gain anything from it. For teachers, this concept should be a no-brainer since they see the differences in which kids learn every day.
I believe middle school is the most embarrassing time of everyone’s life. And so, I will not be going in-depth here because I just don’t want to think about it too much.
Band is what I remember the most from middle school. I truly recommend sending your children to band as an elective because it keeps children out of trouble, teaches them music, and ensures that they have friends even though those friends might be a bit odd. At least that’s what I experienced. I chose to play percussion because I did taiko (Japanese drumming) outside of school and my sister chose percussion. Unfortunately, that was truly one of the worst choices of my life.
Band was also an opportunity to travel. We went to other islands in Hawaii and to Disneyland! Those trips were definitely highlights of my middle school experiences. One of my close friends and fellow percussionists uploaded his vlogs from the trip, and so I included one of them below. He screams his head off the entire time so don’t wear earphones if you decide to watch it.
High school is when things got much busier. I continued in band, but it was no longer my first priority. I started having to divide my focus between student government, tennis, clubs, standardized tests, AP classes, my Japanese studies, and many other extracurriculars/interests.
Many of my favorite memories come from my Japanese classes. It was through Japanese that I met possibly my favorite teacher ever. She build very strong relationships with her students and assigned us many fun and contextualized projects. Her class was anything but easy. However, I knew that she had high expectations for all her students that she was certain we could meet them. This made me motivated not only in terms of getting good grades but also to make her proud. As a result, I learned a great deal of Japanese from her, enough to pass the Seal of Biliteracy test in my senior year. I’m very grateful to my sensei!
Although I was never that good at it, I did tennis for all 4 years of high school. I really miss the camaraderie that you feel when you’re a student-athlete on a team. However, I do not miss the stress that can result during the season of your sport. There were many moments when I felt mentally, physically, and emotionally drained, especially when there were high-stakes matches and intense practices every day on top of everything else going on. If I ever find myself being a high school teacher, I’ll definitely remember how stressful high school can be for students.
Transitioning to college from high school was strange to say the least. My first year of college was completely online, something that I had never experienced before. It wasn’t the most terrible experience for me. I was actually pretty happy to stay at home sometimes, just hanging out with my dog. But I will say, living in Hawaii Standard Time while your classes are in Pacific Standard Time was extremely annoying. Not only did I have to wake up insanely early for classes, but I also had to constantly convert times in my head and adjust my schedule whenever Daylight Savings hit.
When my current, second year of college came around, I was finally able to go onto campus and attend in-person courses. It felt completely different from my previous year online. I hadn’t made a single close friend at UP when things were online, and now I have a great friend group with who I will be living in a house next year! These experiences are a reminder of how important the social aspect is in one’s education. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for students in grades K-12 who were completely online last year.
The life of a student is certainly filled with ups and downs. It is such a memorable and important time of life that teachers especially cannot forget. A good teacher should be able to draw on their own experiences and empathize with their students. When I become a teacher, I want to try my best to imagine my students’ POV to understand their experiences in my class, and that can only happen if I remember what it was like to be a student in the first place.