Something doesn't add up here...
Posted by bozino 9 years ago
The school board here has come up with a plan to allow "teachers to meet regularly to collaborate and discuss ways to improve individual student academic performance." The plan involved moving some times around, with the net result being that students still end up with the state mandated amount of classroom time.  
 
The gist of the plan is that school starts 10 minutes earlier every day. Let's see, 10 minutes/day x 5 days/week = 50 additional minutes per week.  
 
The schools then let out one hour earlier each Wednesday so the teachers can work on improving that academic performance.  
 
It seems to me that the students are actually LOSING 10 minutes of class time per week.  
 
The issue is compounded because there will be six Wednesdays where school will let out an additional 1 1/2 hours earlier then the already shortened day.  
 
So, for 33 weeks, they miss 10 minutes per week, and for 6 weeks, they miss 100 minutes, for a total of 930 minutes, or 15.5 hours.  
 
I don't get this new math. What am I missing?
You can't get anything done in 10 minute increments...
FoolProof: ...so they pic up a few here and there and mash 'em together for happy hour on Wednesday.  
 
Is that so hard to understand?
aktaeon: It's not the same as before and therefore panic inducing.
FoolProof: I'm noticing a theme.
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smith: I'll try.  
 
Your school, like mine, most likely was meeting for far more that the state/government mandated required instructional minutes. Also, if there were passing periods, or internal break times that were changed, that could account for the "loss" of minutes.  
 
For example, my school also has early release days for teacher collaboration. The purpose of these meetings is to complete WASC review, Japanese lesson study, develop common assessments aligned to the standards, review assessment data, adjust curriculum maps and continue professional development on Best Practices. We start school at 7:50 now, as opposed to eight o'clock. We also instituted a seven period day, as opposed to six. Even though only between half to two thirds of our students require the seventh period intervention, the state counts those as "instructional minutes" so we "bank" thousands of extra minutes a year. Now, those minutes then must be spread over the requisite 180 school days,  
 
Also consider that "passing periods" are not instructional minutes and neither is lunch. Students at my school now have a 35 minute lunch and passing periods were reduced from a ten minute passing period to six minutes. It was determined that both were, originally, too long and leading to conflict in the halls and out on campus. (Idle hands and all). All of this adds up to time which can be used for professional development, which, depending on your district's contract with the teachers must take place within certain hours and only for so many hours a year.  
 
Now, let's assume that despite all this minute-wrangling, students are still being taught at least the minimum number of instructional minutes, but less than before. That's bad, right? Well...not always. Many parents assume that the loss of instructional minutes is immediately a detriment to their student's achievement. However, if the professional development builds the teacher's capacity to instruct, and that capacity is then supported in practice in the classroom, then the slightly fewer instructional minutes from day to day are worth the exchange, because the instruction students will receive will be from a more skilled teacher and the returns on the time will be greater. The key is that the focus of professional development needs to be on improving instruction and therefore student achievement.  
 
Oh..and there should be a parent component as well. Our school, in conjunction with professional development, offers six week Parent to School partnership workshops which focus on teaching parents how to support academics and achievement at home as well as supporting them and their students and teaching them about the making the school system work for them.  
 
I've got lots more to say, but I'll jump down for the moment.
bozino: ha! the teacher took the bait!  
 
Thanks for the insight. I don't think our district was meeting for far more that the state/government mandated required instructional minutes, but they were obviously over the top if they were able to make this switch.  
 
Hopefully, the change will make for better teachers.
smith: That is always the hope.