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Traditional School Schedules: Beneficial or in Need of a Revamp?

Three Focus areas:

School Start Time, Daily Course Load, 4-Day School Week

Good day exchangers!

As usual, I like to keep the posts shorter than longer (I'm trying, just #somuchtosay, #somuchinfo)... I failed, FYI :-) ... but I'll be cutting this one short by including some links as references rather than spelling everything out...

Today's topic is sponsored by exhaustion, sleepiness, and what some studies and schools have noted about the correlation between learning and the time of day lessons are conducted and course loads.

We aren't getting into the even more complex issues of lesson design, and #pedagogy

For starters teaching through the global pandemic has led to quite a few revelations. One is that students and teachers are #burtnout , much like everyone else... nods to #greatresignation, and has made us question things. Some of those questions relate to a central theme.

Is the traditional system of teaching and learning #outdated?

And if there are alternative schools out there with great results based on their innovative approaches to education, why are traditional models still so widespread, with no clear plans to improve based on more beneficial methods we can all observe?

In my opinion, and from discussions held with others, the re-vamp of the style of education has been a long time coming. #Experimentalschools

So, for this think piece, we will organize the exploration of this topic as such:

- Learning and School Start Time

- Learning and Courses Load and Class Session Length

In many countries, classes begin anywhere between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

This includes elementary to high school.

School needing to open as a reception and holding location, as parents need to get to work at these times, makes perfect sense. It's really a necessity to have supervision for the learners.

Got it.

This has been the norm for generations, with parents' work schedules being one of the leading causes for the chosen start of the school day. However, now that the field of education research has broadened, we can get more insight into the impact the beginning of the school day has on learning.

According to countless articles, which I will post a few of at the bottom, heavy course loads (quantity per day, not even considering the rigor of those courses) just burns students out. They aren't learning; they are filling a status quo based on filling what needs? #colleges #families #graduationrequirements

Also, the general correlation is that earlier school times are just more stressful on the learner and directly affect performance.... especially in teens.

Learning and School Start Time

Just my two cents inserted here... but it probably affects teens more because, in general, they have been waking up early for school for over 10 years and are probably more exhausted than younger groups. Two, teens generally have more responsibilities like work, trying to get scholarships, watching their siblings, being in every club and sports team for a good college resume, being a teen in general etc...

So it makes sense that waking up early for school is worse for teens. Especially when track meets and other clubs and sports they are in can run until 1 a.m. (in middle school, one of my track meets ran until midnight)

Now, some would argue that it is teaching them good work ethic, to be early risers, etc.

But as humans, we have a tendency to generate opinions all the while being ill-informed about the topic, don't we?

There are so many factors that are affected by class start time: Let's say class starts at 7:30 a.m.

  1. Commute: depending on how far you live, most students and professionals need to wake up around 5:00 a.m. Private transport versus public transportation are factors to consider as well.

- Personal anecdote: I went to a magnet high school. It was for STEM.

Because it was one of the few good STEM schools around, people

came from far and wide on the school bus to attend. Some of my friends

were waking up at 3:00 a.m. to catch the school bus... and not getting

home until 7 or 8 p.m.

(one reason schools started supporting less homework... there is barely any time to do it, and also, you can't use homework as an accurate assessment of individual competency... who knows who completed the work outside of the teacher's eye)

2. Productivity and participation:

In short, we have all had a first-period class. I have had the pleasure of attending them and teaching them.

- Personal Anecdote: Teaching them is nice because most students are too

tired to misbehave or distract anyone. Unfortunately, many students are

late, missing large chunks of information, or they are just too tired,

making their already low enthusiasm to be forced to be in class at 7 a.m.,

even lower. It is hard to hold an engaging lesson, let alone an

assessment. Unfortunately, this often makes teaching and learning

a chore. We know this is an adverse effect on learning.

3. Retention: Because of tardiness and lack of enthusiasm for, let's say, forced content about earth space science at 7:30 a.m., many first-period students are too zoned out to retain anything. Understanding this, there was a significant movement about creating engaging lessons. Many Professional Developments were made about it. Many resources have been developed to make learning more exciting. But some of the fundamental issues are not about the lesson design. Some of the issues are systematic, and they relate to the school schedule, and lesson's being confined to the school grounds and classroom, with no real-world application - ever.

Teachers feel a lot of the responsibility for improving education. The reality is that there are a few things that can evolve at the structural level, namely within the curriculum and school design, to enhance and expand the possibilities of the education system. #Experimentaldesign

Learning and Courses Load and Class Session Length and the 5-day School Week

Then there are the 5-6 classes a day...

some of which are irrelevant to the learner...

some which are going to have to be repeated, by default, in college...

I have experienced it as a learner. I have seen it as a professional...

The stressing and the cramming, the cramming and the stressing...

and that's the good students...

To some, this is a sign of enthusiasm for learning or at least a sign of taking control of the pursuit of achieving academic goals. But let's say we genuinely examined this phenom, this tradition, this sort of academic hazing. If we did, we might notice some of the issues with this approach... we may come to the conclusion that it is an unnecessarily perpetuated characteristic found in education.

Course loads: Why do students need to take 5-6 classes a day? Adults can barely make it through work training and 20-minute very relevant and potent ted talks that they choose to watch themselves on youtube... So why do we still expect and make it necessary for students to learn 5-6 different subjects every day?

Again, this part is not even considering rigor within each course...

There are ways to re-vamp the daily courses schedule to still reach graduation requirements at the national/regional level ... which may also need to be re-vamped... cough cough...

Class length: Research shows that the attention span of each generation is getting shorter and shorter ... why are classes longer than 50 minutes, even more so if the students have the class daily, 5 days a week?

To be fair though, this area of things is extremely challenging to figure out. Results seem to vary from audience to audience based on various factors like instructor quality, audience culture, etc. But some valuable research does support having longer class times. 90 minutes or longer.

My two cents on the topic. I have experience teaching very diverse audiences. I have taught toddlers how to read, and young adults how to think. I have taught high performing and low performing students. I have taught students from wealthy homes, and homeless students. I have taught students who barely understand the language of instruction, and those who are fluent in it. I have taught many cultures and competency levels with the same lesson, at all once. #differentiation I have taught core subjects and electives. . I have taught adults.

There are 3 things that remain generally consistent from my personal experience... both as a student and as a teacher:

- length of class session has a strong correlation to subject and necessity of class. Meaning: is the class needed to graduate? Is the class needed for college entrance exams? Is the class an elective? If the class is a core subject, or a high rigor course, or say, art, then yes, there is a strong argument for extended session time. But is this same length of time appropriate for P.E. or Computer Skills? More so if they are taken every day.

It is true that sometimes extended time given isn't even enough because of delving so deep into the content and working on assignments. Even so, classes do not require extended time, for every session. In walks #freetime .

- Age may effect behavior when dealing with lengthy courses.... but attention span and enthusiasm wane either way from toddlers to adults past 45 minutes.

- Available resources that are effective for making the particular content area as potent as possible. For example: one of the best ways to compliment social-studies is by getting out into society. Or at least bringing it in. But most social-studies curriculum does not make exposure a requirement. The subject is supported by more things to read.

I think this speaks for itself. We aren't paying attention how we used to, and we're also tempted to take extra time for granted when we have it.

When time is shorter, productivity is boosted. When time is prolonged, productivity decreases.

Work-place research and some school-based research is supporting this...

It's just psychology.

While we are on it, let us note the 5-day school week. It is affected by the same psychology as the longer and shorter class times. When we have more time for rest, our performance improves. We understand that about physical stamina, but why do we forget it about mental stamina?

Again, the research conducted behind this shows how better rest and work-life balance can improve enthusiasm, learning, and productivity.

A 4-day school week, shorted class sessions, and fewer classes daily sounds like an educational win for everyone involved.

These changes would also leave room at the high school level for chances in the day for real-world experiences outside of school, without missing any classes!

Let's keep it traditional #PublicSchool

Let's say that there were no changes and everything remained traditional. Meaning we start class between 7:00 and 7:30, we leave between 2:30 and 3:15. We have 5-7 classes a day, and classes are 50 minutes or longer. Some schools have classes held daily, some schools have classes that are on a block / every other day schedule. 5 day week (although many in the U.S. have turned to 4 days)

Could the year-round school calendar support increased engagement, reduced tardiness and absenteeism, reduce burnout, and help increase achievement overall?

Would a week or two off of school every 1-2 months improve parent involvement, and support respect for learning?

Just a thought.

But, when it comes to many schools and districts there are many contributing factors affecting widespread innovations we may or may not be seeing in the education system.

All of this being said, teaching and learning during a global pandemic really opened our eyes to many issues within pre-existing systems across most industries.

The question is... the challenge, rather, is... what is the most effective way and least tumultuous route for organizations to re-thinking school and curriculum to support their diverse 21st-century learners?...

We aren't teaching and learning in our grandparents' school systems anymore.


School Start Time and Student Achievement

Course Load and Class Session Length

4-day school week

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