Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Should school day and year be extended?

Teachers and public education are under fire from all sides of the political aisle. No state or district seems safe from being pressured into making school and students better. Two proposals seem to be getting a lot of attention these days. Either making the school day longer, or adding days to the school year. What do you think? Do we need to lengthen the school day and year?

The ones who are for it, seem to make the argument that making either the school day longer, or school year, will mean students are in the classroom learning longer. And, logic goes, that if students are in the classroom longer, then they must be learning more, right? It can't be anything but good to make school longer.

Those opposed see no reason to do either. They feel that the schools are not being given the resources to adequately teach students. More money should be spent on schools and students, not longer days or years. They feel they are not given a chance now to teach as well as they should. A longer school day will not fix the problems in public schools.

So what's the bottom line? Making students spend time in the classroom under the belief that students will somehow learn more and better, makes no sense. The school day and year have been roughly the same for a very long time. So, why all of a sudden should it be longer? Money also is not the real problem. Money cannot buy a great teacher, nor can it force a student to perform. Every school in the country is funded for a basic education. It's really what each school and district do with their resources that is the problem.

When I taught in the public schools, I saw an enormous amount of time wasted at school. And I mean wasted as in no real teaching or learning going on. The first and last few minutes of a school day are basically for entering or leaving. Toss in recess and lunch, and you have little time for real instruction.

What are other school day time killers? I would be stepping on a lot of toes if I said what I saw on a regular basis. If you think teachers teach and students learn for 7 hours a day, you are sadly mistaken. Forget about Friday afternoons, especially Fridays before a Holiday break or 3 day weekend. Does your child have a Christmas party? Halloween party? Birthday parties for kids who have mothers bring in cupcakes? Ever here of Friday fun time?

I once was observed a class that could earn free time during the week. That is, for each amount of time they worked and listened, they earned a certain amount of free time on Friday.

Not to mention assemblies, walking to and from recess, library time, and other stuff done during the day that teachers do just to break up the monotony. Sometimes you need a break and just relax, but then why extend the school day? Just causes more time to be wasted.

I know a lot of teachers will be honest and admit that they "waste" a lot of classroom time doing non-educational things. Some would probably say it adds value to the school day.

The real solution would be to get teachers organized now with the time they have. principals need to be responsible for making teachers utilize the school day teaching and learning.

Extending the school day and year will do nothing.

Think about this. If your boss told you that you are going to start working 9 hours a day for 6 days, what you think? Especially if he or she told you that it was to improve quality of your work!

>> How to be an effective teacher.

>> How to be a teacher.


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