In the wake of the seven-hour day

With+the+new+seven-hour+day%2C+students+and+teachers+feel+that+there+is+far+less+time+in+the+day.

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With the new seven-hour day, students and teachers feel that there is far less time in the day.

Taylor Baker, Print Editor

The teachers here at JC seem to be split regarding their opinions of the new seven-hour schedule. Some say they are loving it, and some say they absolutely hate it.
It seems imperative to mention the distinct correlation as to the deciding factor of their viewpoint, which is the subject they teach. Teachers who teach classes that are taken in sequence, such as math or foreign languages, are mostly in favor of the change.
Ms. Sanders, an English teacher, says that the year-long classes have really helped her connect with her students.
“I like the seven-block schedule. I think it helps students stay on task, they stay focused because there’s not a lot of time to screw around and just hang out… And I think that having classes for a whole year gives teachers opportunities to build relationships with those kids who have a little bit of a tougher time being in school,” Sanders states.
The main benefit of the seven-period schedule is that the classes that used to only be one semester have gained time, but the AP classes that were three terms have lost crucial class time. The teachers who teach higher-level courses, or even just courses that require a lot of effort, are the ones who have been hit the hardest during this schedule change.
Mr. Snider, who teaches AP Lang, said that the cut to his time with students has severely reduced the quality of discussion time, as well as the amount of time he has to give feedback on his student’s writing.
“The schedule is sheer destruction to an English teacher’s life. Here is the math: It takes, easily, 30-45 minutes to give quality feedback on a 5-8 page paper. A typical English class has maybe 20-25 students in it. That means one paper assigned to one class takes about 18 hours to score. In my most recent case, I had three classes with the same paper to score, so it took around 56 hours to give feedback FOR ONE ASSIGNMENT. That is MORE than a legal week’s work slammed into my weekends. That means that some of my students have to wait three weeks for quality feedback. This does not include the other TWO classes I teach; those classes ALSO have writing assignments in need of feedback. Where does leadership think the time comes from?… There are teachers who have resorted to taking paid sick time and personal days away from the classroom just to give feedback on student’s work,” Snider states.
His, and many teacher’s frustrations come from the lack of communication between the people who decided to change the schedule, and the ones who are being affected by said change.
One negative aspect that every teacher mentioned, whether they are in favor of the new schedule or not, is the cut to their planning period. They have about half the time they used to have, and more students than before.
“I’ve never been one to show up and leave right at contracted time, I’ve always either stayed late or came in early to get work done, even before the change in the schedule, but now I find myself getting here even earlier and staying later just to get copies made, assignments graded, and to do general planning. Or I’m taking more work home to do, where I wasn’t before. This is unfortunate because it takes away from my time with my family and time to myself,” Ms. Thurman states.
It is fair to say the teachers are being overworked and they are not getting paid enough to do so much extra work outside of their job. Mr. Snider offered a few solutions for this issue:
First of all, cap English classes (or any class with writing-intensive scoring) at a lower rate than other classes. Doing this would mean the district acknowledges the extra work burden required to make writing and literacy a priority. It would also mean respecting the teachers dedicated to this mission. The district has made positive moves by hiring more English teachers at the middle-school level, so it is possible leadership will hear and accept this need.
Secondly, grant English teachers an extra plan period. This removes some of the immense feedback burdens on writing so teachers can give timely feedback of quality to help students grow. It also gives them a little time in their contract day to do the work the district wants as opposed to cutting into their personal time (ie. doing it for free).
Both of the solutions above would probably require hiring MORE teachers. Do it. That is the cost of the job you want done.
All in all, the teachers are very strongly in favor of, or against, the new schedule. It needs to be acknowledged that they are spending so much of their own personal time doing extra work.
That being said, a lot of teachers feel they are connecting with students better than years past.
Hopefully, in the coming years, there will be a solution which is determined by critically examining the effect of the change on the students and teachers so that students are receiving the best possible education, and the teachers who are struggling can return to feeling the passion for teaching that originally drove them to this career.