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Student and Teacher Opinions on SGI

Ava Karaganis, Grade 10, Staff Writer

 

This school year, HSAS decided not to continue with its SGI program, so I asked students and teachers how they felt about its elimination. 


For teachers and students, SGI was a mixed bag. Both agreed that SGI was a great program in theory with a lot of potential. However, it involved a lot of tradeoffs, and eventually the school decided that the cons outweigh the pros.


First of all, what was SGI? SGI, small group instruction, was introduced last school year at the High School of American Studies.


SGI took place after the last period and lasted the same amount of time as a regular class. Every teacher held one SGI per week. Teachers would either randomly assign students to SGI periods or invite students who needed additional assistance.  


Teachers emphasized the ways in which SGI was beneficial. Ms. Kinney, the 10th grade geometry teacher, said that she “misses it a little bit because there were times when it really worked well for students to figure out things that they didn’t have time for in class. Or to give some extra support or even extra fun activities.” 


But the tradeoffs, especially in regard to after school schedules, were a problem. Ms. Kinney also observed that “it really interfered with clubs starting on time. It also meant that some students would come but others just wouldn’t and I really had no consequences for that. It's complicated but I hope that this year students will come to me after school when they need more support.”


Mr. Weiss, the principal of HSAS, saw the question of SGI in relation to COVID. He said, “I think that after covid, there was a sense that students were more shy about asking questions during class and SGI was a way to break the ice for them because it’s in a smaller group setting. Now that we are more or less back to regular life I think teachers definitely feel that students are more empowered to ask for help when they need it.”


Students also had mixed opinions. Some clearly appreciated the extra time and support for their work, but others felt that it was too disconnected from the school day and curriculum. 


The disconnection “left some of the teachers unprepared and we didn’t make enough productive use of the time. It could have been more helpful if they coordinated SGI with what we were doing in class.” 


Time is very important for HSAS students. They often have very packed after school schedules, juggling clubs, sports, long commutes home, and hours of homework. SGI didn’t fit easily into that mix.   


Mr. Weiss, commenting on the reasons behind the cancellation of SGI, noted: “A variety of factors went into the decision to remove SGI. The first is that the teachers contract expressed different expectations for the school day and the options that each school had were more limited. The second was that there were some students that were complaining and wanted it to be optional rather than required. And some students who even when required, didn’t attend. So I think the teachers felt that restructuring it and making office hours optional was a better use of everybody’s time.” 


When asked whether they miss SGI, another teacher said “I miss it, I thought it was a really great program.”  

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