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Shorter teaching time for students makes a mockery education goals

The school board approved a new schedule for students in high school (March 22). With this schedule, students who choose to be in school in person will now be able to be in school four days a week instead of two days. The administration is hoping that by doing so, these students will become more engaged with their work and will find a renewed motivation.

Unfortunately, this decision comes at a cost: the cost of quality education. You see, because of bus constraints in this time of COVID-19, to accommodate this schedule, the administration has decided to shave off 5 minutes of teaching per period and to cram seven periods in three hours and 13 minutes of school time a day. This means that the day will now be comprised of a succession of 25-minute periods with 3 minutes of passing time. For students studying remotely, the weekly teaching time will be reduced from 840 minutes to 700 minutes per week. That’s a loss of 140 minutes! For kids who are at school in person, the school is adding 3 hours of in-person teaching on Fridays, so with shorter days, the teaching time will go from 840 minutes to 775 minutes a week.

I see several major problems with this:

First of all, the 3-minute passing time is unrealistic, especially for students who have to transition from the old high school building to the new building or students who have to use the bathroom. This will result in students being routinely late to their next class and will disrupt the already shortened teaching time.

Secondly, teaching any subject in 25 minutes is going to be a mad dash. How much time will teachers now have for individual attention? None. How much time will they have to re-explain something that a student failed to understand? None. With the occasional discipline issue and the few late students, the teaching session will be reduced to almost nothing. Teaching subjects like chemistry, biology, math, physics, English, or history at a high school level in 25 minutes is not going to be a pleasant endeavor for teachers, and learning in such conditions will certainly not be a pleasant experience for students. Several teachers have already assured me that in these conditions they will not be able to teach part of their curriculum.

Lastly, for reasons still unexplained, students who attend school from home via Zoom will now have classes from 12 PM to 3:15 PM instead of 8:20 AM to 1:30 PM. Some students who have a job in the afternoon or who participate in a sport will now have to either give up their sport or their job or miss some of their already shrunken classes.

So, under those conditions, I really fail to understand how this new schedule is going to help the students who are already disengaged to find a renewed interest in school. What I see, on the other hand, is that this new schedule, which was approved after only one hasty reading by the board, is robbing all students of 35 minutes of teaching time a day, which at the end of the week, represents over four periods of teaching lost. The students who will most suffer from this are the ones who are not in school in person.

This large group of students has been forgotten in this decision and will once again be sacrificed to accommodate the needs of a few. LR has very dedicated teachers and has a portion of its students whose only goal is to receive a decent education. This decision makes a mockery of both. I’ve always hoped that our school would one day thrive academically, and I’ve given a lot of my time and energy to this cause. Unfortunately, as long as we will keep leveling from the bottom, I am losing hope that this will ever be achieved.

Cathy LaPlace


Reader Comments(1)

Amanda Burton writes:

Agreed! I also want to know why we are not hearing anything about going back to full time now that the 6’ mandate has been shortened to 3’. Why are people not questioning this? Other school boards have already met and are going to full time this month, why aren’t we??? It was my understanding that was what was keeping us at this 2 1/2 hours a day 4 days a week schedule that the elementary is that mandate has changed so why are we not taking action towards full time?!

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