Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Longer, Stronger, Smarter and Well Rounded too

I first heard the news on my way to school.  It was dark and the fog had settled into the valley so I wondered what I had really heard. Then, later, the NYTimes confirmed that longer school days are on the horizon for many as soon as next year in programs to assess their effectiveness of preparing students as 21st Century learners..  I've been thinking about how jam packed our school days are - and more so lately than ever before.  We, teachers, complain a LOT about "not having enough time" to get "it" all done; thus, it really is no surprise that longer school days and longer school years are on the horizon. I guess you need to be careful what you say in remarks about trying to implement the Common Core Standards and APPR and all the rest of the initiatives! 

There are a few things we need to consider as we move in this directions:
1) Kids and teachers will need "coffee breaks" - real ones like the professionals who work in offices take-  rather than rushed energy bars while conferencing.  We'll need a stocked refrigerator and a spot to heat coffee and tea during the longer day.  We may all need rest time, too.
2) Kids and teachers will need real lunch hours with quiet meals and perhaps even restaurant style service rather than life in a cafeteria that could give anyone a headache. We'll need to have more protein and fresh veggies along with nutritious snacks to sustain our energy.  Schools might look at ways to have this available for kids as they want / need it. 
3) Kids and teachers will need to have more physical education and "free" choice play time scheduled.  Perhaps, personal trainers could come to school to work with teachers and help them deal with the stress of their days. Soccer and basketball coaches could come to school for clinics.  We could have craft time and puzzle time.
4) We can schedule soccer, scouts, karate and all the other myriad of after school activities into our longer day and thus the evenings can be about family time. 
5) We can teach kids to play outside and play with their friends. 
6) We might even teach them how to clean up the classroom after themselves.
7) We might even be able to get all the homework done at school. (That would be a good thing as homework is very stressful for many families!)
8) We'll need more teachers, for sure.  We'll need teachers with stamina and energy!
9) Let's not just ADD hours but rather rethink how and what we do in school AND at home in order to prepare kids for the lives they will be living as 21st Century citzens. 


Laura said...

Careful what you wish for, indeed.
I agree with you completely about the need to incorporate both physical activity and rest throughout the day - we need it now, and certainly will with a longer day. And we do need to get away from the lock-step factory style and allow freedom to eat when hungry.
I'm not sure how I feel about the approaching longer days. But, like you, I will demand that any added hours are added THOUGHTFULLY.

marika said...

I've long thought that if they just extended the day slightly, teachers could plan just as much as they always did, but we'd actually GET to everything we planned! :) I also vote yes on extending SMARTER, not just extending LONGER...

Beverley Baird said...

I so agree - we really don't need longer days, just a greater emphasis on what is important. If we worried less about preparing kids for all those standards tests, and more about preparing them for life, we would all be further ahead.

shogem said...

Well said. My 4th graders have trouble making it through the day. They are so tired because of the infinite number of activities that they are registered outside of the classroom