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Chatboard Poll: What's Wrong With Your School's Daily Schedule?
Teachers.Net asked readers: What is your pet peeve about your school's daily schedule? Responses pointed out schedules that seem to make the school day more challenging than may be necessary. Several people responded with concerns about the time school opens each morning.

"Too early!"

"In spite of studies that show teenagers work better on a "night owl" schedule, our high school begins at 7:20 a.m. On a purely selfish note, I hate it. I am the type who thrives on 3 a.m. bed times and 10 a.m. wake up calls. I am NOT a morning person. This year has been such an adjustment, and I only have to be at work half an hour earlier. But I have to get up an hour earlier because I function slower in the morning."

"Our high school schedule starts classes at 7:30 a.m. For the vast majority of teenagers, this early start does not coincide with their internal clocks. Very few of them are fully awake until 9:30 or so. However, we have transportation constraints [which make the early start necessary]."

Easy to manage, but not to teach:

"My first period class is asleep which makes for easy management, but difficulties grasping difficult concepts. When I taught keyboarding first period, it was no big deal. Only the occasional drooling in the keyboard when someone 'went back to bed' at their desk. Now that I'm teaching Computers in Business and Advanced Computers in Business, trying to help them understand queries in Access when their little brains are still in sleep mode is very frustrating for everyone involved. Thank goodness I don't teach Networking first period! Imagine trying to explain TCP/IP to people half asleep while I too am half asleep!"

Deprived of enlightenment

"In the Winter we come to school in the dark. If I work late, I go home in the dark too. Most of the time I'm dragging, the kids are dragging, and rest of the staff is dragging (except those insufferable morning people who you just want to kick)."

"What I would prefer is even half an hour later [opening]. What I believe is best is probably an hour and a half later. School should start for HS students at 9:00 a.m. Cognitively they are more awake and more able to comprehend. Give us a block schedule (esp. for Networking...that would be SWEET) and I would be perfectly happy. (Until I find the next thing to complain about...kidding...kidding.)"

One teacher cited a schedule that must be digestively challenging:

"What I don't particularly like is that I have lunch at different times. On A day lunch is from 10:55-11:20. On B day, lunch is from 12:20-12:50."

Confusing, but it works:

"I'm still getting used to this schedule since it's my first year at this school. It's not that unusual, but we reverse the schedules between A and B days. On A day I teach Blocks 123C (with a lunch after the first block and conference at the end of the day). On B day I have a Conference first then the classes in the reverse. C321. I like not always having the same group at the end of the day. I see them in the mornings on A days - and they are entirely different - even pleasant!"

This writer pointed out a practice that misses opportunities to provide students with exercise and socialization:

"The thing that bothers me the most about my school is that there is no scheduled recess at anytime during the day. The children go to lunch and sit in the cafeteria for 35 minutes, as well as no morning recess or afternoon recess. The kids don't have anytime for socialization with school mates. We can, as teachers, take our individual classes out to recess. But this is not meeting the needs of students to socialize with others in their grade/age range."

Several educators described situations that seem to make less than efficient use of students' time and school resources:

"My pet peeve is that we let the students in the building 30 minutes before they are allowed in their classrooms. They are allowed to go to breakfast, but other than that they all go to the gym for 30 minutes of WASTED time."

"The library is basically off limits before and after school for most children. A chosen precious few are allowed to enter the inner sanctum. During school hours one has to reserve a time for a student to visit."

"There are no breaks for the children. Four minutes between classes, 30 minutes at lunch, and nowhere to let off steam after lunch - they must all stand in a herd before they are dismissed to the next class. We have a large middle school, over 1500 children. So logistics is a big problem."

The scheduling of planning time and lavatory break was also an issue among some respondents:

"One is how there's one day we have 2 specials in the day, one day when we have 1 special, and 3 days when we have none. The two days with specials are consecutive, then nothing the rest of the week."

"The other is how sometimes specials are scheduled so that they run through your recess time depriving the students of a recess and the teachers of the 15 minute recess break we are contractually supposed to have."

"All teachers in the district have duty free recess breaks except for Kindergarten. We make sure we all go out at the same time so that we can at least get a bathroom break."

"Kindergarten starts at 8:30 while the rest of the school starts at 8:55. That means many of our students don't show up until 8:45 or so when they come with older siblings."

Then there were those who noted reasons for being pleased with their schools' schedules. One was even surprised to find that s/he had nothing negative to say:

"I would have thought there would be something to complain about but thinking about it, I don't!"

"I love my school's schedule!! It's just right."

"We have a great schedule! I cannot complain. Grade level planning, duty-free lunch, same planning period daily, a wonderful librarian that lets the kids come to the library one or two at a time, whenever you send them. I could go on and on."

This post reminded me how much we learn from the opportunity to congregate via the Internet with colleagues from all over, educating us about cultural differences:

"The problem I have with my school's daily schedule is a cultural one. I'm an American teaching in a Mexican school, which still follows the siesta-time daily schedule. Classes are from 7:00-1:00 and 4:00-9:00. Most of us, especially those of us who teach full-time (40 hours per week of classes) work part of the morning shift and part of the evening shift. With the long break in the afternoon, it often feels like teaching two days in one day. Every semester it seems that I end up with a schedule that includes teaching the first class of the day and the last class of the evening. However, for me that's better than the option, which is to teach on Saturday."

One teacher summed up what many apparently believe about the origins of schedules that do not meet the needs of students and teachers:

"Schools are run for the convenience of those who run schools. Part of what is good for kids and teachers is good for running schools -- but only a small part. The problem is that those most affected by the schedule have the least to say about it. If kids and teachers had a voice in the decisions regarding the schedule they could be more appropriate, more flexible, and more committed. The problem is 'how' the schedule is determined not 'what' gets determined."

Teachers.Net thanks Deborah Wiggerly for her assistance in gathering material for this article.

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