Do kids need more time in school, or more time to play?
It’s a good question, but it’s also where the question of the length of the school day comes from.
The State of Massachusetts mandates a minimum of 900-990 hours of student learning time per student per year depending on grade level. CPSD has 185 days of school. That translates to between 4:52 and 5:21 per day of structured learning time.
Structured learning time does not include recess, eating, time in hallways, many types of student activities, or other forms of unstructured time. A six hour school day leaves just 40 minutes for all of that. That’s not enough! Having just back-to-back academics for six hours is not reasonable. Would you want to do that?
If I had my druthers, I’d reduce the state regulations, and we could have a discussion about the best way to structure our school year and school day. As is, our hands are tied in many ways, and we do need to lengthen the school day to make the school experience more pleasant and less stressful for our children.
So why don’t we just do it?
Teachers need a break too. An eight hour workday with six hours of classroom time leaves just two hours for lesson preparation, grading, administratoin, and all the other things teachers do. Coming up with a way to lengthen the day without placing unreasonable burden on our teachers is a pretty big change. It will take time, work, and development.
It is possible but it’s a big job. There are quite a few places we can work to make teachers’ lives more pleasant and efficient, freeing up some time. Interacting with students is more fun than grading or meetings. There is a lot we can do with how we structure afterschool. There are many places we can improve things. But this change needs to be planned out and organized so that it doesn’t do more harm than good.
While we’re reworking the structure of the teacher workday, we also want to think through other programs which take time, especially around professional development and teacher mentorship.