Student behavior will be a point of discussion at the Walla Walla School Board’s special board meeting Tuesday, Nov. 29.

According to the Walla Walla Public Schools website, the meeting is to “discuss results from a recent teacher survey and to hear from staff and students regarding pupil attendance and behavior trends.”

Keith Swanson, a Walla Walla High School teacher and president of the union that represents Walla Walla and College Place teachers, said the teachers were presented with a survey earlier this fall on what concerns they had regarding student behavior.

“This past summer, the teachers’ union and the district mutually agreed upon the need to learn more about how our staff is doing and identify ways to help,” he said.

Since students returned to the classroom after more than a year of distance and hybrid learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools nationwide reported a negative impact on student behavior and attendance, the Washington Post reported.

Swanson said this is happening in Walla Walla as well.

“Student behavior and motivation is a growing problem,” Swanson said. “I think it goes beyond the pandemic.”

Swanson said keeping students focused has been getting more difficult for some time but thinks that difficulty got worse after the pandemic. He said he thinks it could partly be because of bad habits formed during distance learning.

“I think the pervasive use of social media and cellphones made it harder for students to focus for longer periods of time,” he said. “I think it’s been a growing trend for a decade, but it became exponentially more concerning as we were returning from the pandemic.”

The survey asked teachers about their concern of student behavior. It asked them to gage their concern of student behavior in the classroom, during lunch, on the bus and before and after school.

Swanson said it’s not all about behavior, but also about the well-being and success of students.

“It’s not just that kids are behaving badly,” he said. “It’s that we are saying a range of behaviors that include misbehaving but also student apathy, student depression and student anxiety.

Results of the survey will be discussed at the meeting. According to the agenda, no board action is expected.

Jeremy Burnham can be reached at or 509-526-8321.


Jeremy covers courts, public safety and education for the Union-Bulletin. He graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2019 with a degree in journalism. He pursued a career in journalism in his 30s because he feels real, dependable news is important now more than ever. He aims to shine a light on both the good and bad that happens in the Valley. He is a big fan of all the EWU sports teams. Jeremy grew up in California but has lived in eastern Washington since 2001. When he’s not working, Jeremy loves spending time with his wife, Hanna, and their Goldendoodle, Nala. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @ub_jeremy.  

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