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In school, I feel as though I tend to be rushed and pushed while being hushed. This just means I feel that teachers and parents tend to rush me to get work done while being silent: working silently and thinking silently. 

Ever since the pandemic, teachers and parents have likely noticed that students have become more aware of how awkward it is to break the silence during class. I’ve for sure noticed it.

Like during my biology lectures, when the room smells like a mix of too many perfumes and muggy teenagers, and the air feels like a thick cloud of dust and sweat and boredom. I can always spot quiet moments like these in any classroom because the ceiling will start to feel more overwhelming with the bright lights reflecting against the huge clear panels leaving the whole class blind, the teacher’s  monotone voice slowly fading and blending with the white noise of the building and the colors of the hallways and classrooms mixing and blending with the same boring shades. With this kind of setting for almost seven hours a day, how could students, including myself, not be tired or doze off in class?  

Or take my English period: we read stories and I have no clue what they mean. I recall being in this situation often in our Romeo and Juliet chapter.  I remember not understanding a certain word or phrase and not mentioning it to or asking the teacher—I didn’t because of the awkwardness and embarrassment it would bring. Every time I would  try to answer or share my opinion I felt as if it were stupid because “nobody is listening” and “this is awkward she could’ve just kept to herself.” My brain would often start sending many signals like:

The room is cold. The teacher’s voice is pretty unenthusiastic. That kid over there is staring at me. What did I do? Do I smell bad? Do I have a test next period? etc.

My mind would take over and start to hyper fixate on one thing or overthink and flood with questions while gazing off into space. This would happen to me in online school more often because the teacher wasn’t looking at me and I wasn’t so awkward to stare at nothing in my own home.

Home where I couldn’t be judged.

These gazing off moments feel like they have started to happen more and more at school because I got so used to it during covid. Everywhere I go there are quiet moments. Even when teachers don’t instruct their students to be quiet, there are moments when students go silent automatically. You may notice quiet moments in the hallways, when going to the bathrooms or going to a class. This happens all the time: during assignment, projects and even during free time. I believe this occurs because of how distant the pandemic forced us to be in 2020, and I think it made me feel weird to speak up during e-learning—it felt as if it was normalized to not respond or stay muted. 

I’ve had many times of zoning out, spacing out and just feeling “out of it” in school. In most of my classes, I often hate it when one of my teachers is lecturing. Teachers will try to interact with the students, and the students just sit there, looking at each other while wondering who will break the voicelessness. As a student, I noticed that other students seem to have subconsciously become less socially involved—zoning out and tuning out. These situations are not comfortable  learning environments; it’s almost like students are afraid to be wrong or to speak up about their opinion.