The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye March 2024 issue
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Greater understanding needed for student accommodations

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©HAWKEYE image credit: Charli Gilchrist

With any problem, there always seems to be at least one solution. When it comes to student accommodations in school however, it seems like no one knows exactly how to tackle it. Often students are left with not enough accommodations, or having to explain to teachers the details of what their accommodations are.

In my experience, most staff members have been understanding and respectful when handling my accommodations, but that’s not always the case. I have had to repeatedly tell teachers what my accommodation plan is, and why I cannot take off my headphones, in front of all my classmates. I’m not saying this is everyone’s experience, but since the start of the 2022-2023 school year I have heard many upsetting stories from other students with accommodations dealing with similar things, from getting yelled at by teachers to having to publicly tell the class about a medical condition, and just flat out not being allowed to use resources they need. It’s understandable to ask questions, or to talk to students privately about these issues, but it comes to a point that in a school setting many students with these accommodations, including myself, do not feel safe or comfortable in some classrooms.

When these issues apply to so many different students’ situations in school, it can be hard to overlook all the negativity that surrounds it. While I have had bad interactions with staff, there have also been incredibly kind and caring interactions. The difference between these is the level of education on the topic. At least from my experience, staff who do not understand accommodations and why you have them are the most likely to have a problem with it and bring it up during class. It feels hopeless coming into school every day expecting to be safe and learning, only to be anxious all day, waiting for your teacher to ask you to stop doing what your accommodations allow, like wearing headphones, texting in class, walking out, etc.

Accommodations are a necessity for some students to be able to attend school, and for students that need them to be afraid of actually using them is beyond discouraging. My accommodations are incredibly minor, but they are important and allow me to go to school every day, and even then I have had to talk to several of my teachers about my use of them. I personally need them to stay on task and to not be overwhelmed in a school environment, and it can add a lot of unneeded stress to explain that to staff. Especially now in the age we’re in, I’m sure every student has heard at least one of their teachers say, “I have a no technology policy in my classroom.” While I agree that phone usage in classrooms is a problem, many students have accommodations that involve technology.

On the first day of school, walking into a new building and environment, the first rule in almost all of my classes was that we were not allowed to wear headphones. I got asked to take mine off multiple times. While knowing why this rule is in place, I was too afraid to tell my teachers about my accommodations, especially in a public space, and this resulted in me feeling unwelcome in a lot of my classes. I ended up writing notes to most of my teachers explaining my situation, and thankfully, most of them have respected this

I am incredibly thankful for all of the staff that have been patient and understanding with these accommodations, but not all of them are. It can be incredibly stressful to play a guessing game with your teachers, trying to figure out which classes are and aren’t okay to use your accommodations in. It’s added stress onto an environment that’s already stressful. A few staff members have said that my and others’ accommodations are distracting, but it comes to a point where it’s more distracting in class for a teacher to stop their lesson just to ask a student to take their headphones off.

I personally believe that these issues would be pretty easy to avoid if we actively worked towards them. Instead of publicly asking students about their accommodations, teachers could email them, or even give out papers to every student asking if there are any accommodations they should know about. That way, students can feel welcome and wouldn’t be singled out in front of their class. It’s really frustrating from the point of view of students that need them when teachers don’t respect accommodations. I hope that one day, students will feel safe using their accommodations in school without fear and having to go through so many extra hurdles.

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About the Contributors
Lucas Barquin
Lucas Barquin, Op/Ed Editor
Lucas Barquin joined HSM because he enjoyed writing and wanted to join a group where he could continue writing with others. Lucas’ goal is to write about important topics, and to make every student feel seen and heard. In his free time Lucas enjoys drawing, listening to music and playing D&D. His post high school plans are to attend an art school for graphic design and illustration.
Charli Gilchrist
Charli Gilchrist, Graphics Editor
Charli Gilchrist joined HSM to learn more about journalism and continue from where they had left off in journalism from middle school. They have no specific role but hope to help out the paper with graphic design as much as they can. In their free time, they usually enjoy studying clouds, listening to music, and scrolling through Pinterest. They plan on going to a university of the arts after graduation, but for now they can enjoy contributing to the school paper.
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