Desks emptied, stacked and put aside. Check. Dormant superfluous paper recycled with extreme prejudice. Check. Walls filled with student work, learning goals, art, and inspirational messages now returned to vanilla coloured vacant voids in waiting. Check. Boxes packed and piled in preparation for transport to my new pending portable location (second in 4 years). Cool.
As you’ve observed from the picture on the left, Room 103 is on vacation along with my students. Until the middle of this week it has been a 10 month hive of activity home to 31 + 1 learners all buzzing at their own frequency. Our class was a hub of inquiry, personal growth, and constant learning. And now it’s all gone.
With 9 weeks of summer ahead, I wonder how much of what has been taught over this past year will come back with students when they return in September? Have you ever thought about why we the school year is paused in the modern learning era? Have you ever wondered what it might be like to embrace a balanced teaching year?
I am not advocating additional teaching days beyond the 190+/-, but am asking if we could consider alternatives to a schedule that seems more suited as a throwback to our hunter gatherer ancestors. This got me asking how the schedule we work around really came to be used? Other than the fact that our elementary schools are not equipped with any climate control in the classrooms I am not sure what else it might be from balancing the instructional year? A post from Learning Lab Why Does School Start in September? Hint: It’s not the crops provides some context to this issue.
Now before the hate mail about how important the summer break is for teachers and students, let’s consider the positives. Balanced school schedules allow for greater retention of instructional concepts. That means less knowledge hemorrhage from year to year. Imagine students having the same amount of instruction time, but spread out more evenly, but they retain more of what they’ve learned? Secondly, with a balanced year, there will be weeks off at different times for families to enjoy time together around already existing holidays. Think of the travel savings? Imagine if March Break was 2 weeks? We could all drive to Florida and back relaxed and ready for Spring.
Okay, I’ve shared the sunny side of this, but here’s the shady side. Balanced school years impede students’ ability to make money from summer jobs which may be crucial to helping them attend school, or helping their families. Balanced school years may not provide enough recovery/down time for students or educators to relax and recharge. This might lead to mental health issues such as stress and anxiety. Not good.
Weighing both sides of the conversation is healthy. There are schools already operating on a more balanced schedule with positive results. So where do stand with the classroom empty and the students/staff all gone. Where would you want education to go with this one? Holler when you get a chance. After some down time.
Happy summer. Thanks for reading, responding, and sharing. See you in September. Will