I’ve been fascinated with the idea of year-round schooling for some time now. We talk about the summer slide, and moving to a year-round school calendar seems to be a pretty easy solution to at least help address the problem. Some believe that it would also create a more equitable education system for students from poverty and those with learning disabilities.
While COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on education systems across the country, I believe this is a golden opportunity to make some positive, long term changes. One of those changes could be a move to year-round school. An article in the Seattle Times looked at this very issue, at this very time.
One popular approach to a 12-month school calendar operates on quarters and utilizes a nine weeks on and there weeks off format. This seems particularly useful during a COVID-19 conscience time. If you’ve every worked in a school, you know there are peak times when it seems like everybody in the building is sick. (Think late February and early March.) If these three weeks off lined up with some of these typical hot spots for sickness, it seems that this could be beneficial from a health standpoint. Full disclosure: I have absolutely no professional health training. I do, however, see students get sick in waves at particular times each year. It seems that being away from school and groups of students in close quarters would help reduce the spread of germs during these times.
As the Seattle Times article outlines, moving to a year-round calendar could help close equity gaps, improve student achievement, help special educations students with more consistency, and add precious instructional time for all students. Those all sounds like great ideas. No brainers actual. So what could possibly be the hang-up?
Unfortunately, one of the big obstacles in the way of a year-round school calendar is money. Some models would add days to the academic calendar. That would mean extra costs for teacher salaries, transportation, meals, heating cooling costs, and more. This would be a major obstacle during typical times, but the economic toll this pandemic has taken on the country has hit school budgets especially hard. Most school boards and administrators would be hard pressed to find money in their budgets right now to make such a drastic change.
However, if moving to a year-round school model would benefit teachers, I would encourage policy makers from Washington D.C. to state capitol buildings to local school districts to work to overcome the monetary hurdles that will create a better educational setting for our students. The greatest investment we can make as a society is in our students and young people.
I was participating in an NCTE Twitter chat (#NCTEchat) tonight and saw a tweet which really made me stop and think. The author was Megan Dincher – @mdincherteach. She said, “I also recognize that I’m finding writing to be more difficult than usual on some days right now, so I’m trying to give my students that grace, too.”
I keep thinking about this tweet since I saw it almost three hours ago and the idea of extending grace to students during this time.
This is a really difficult time for adults.
This is a really difficult time for teachers.
This is a really difficult time for students.
This is a really difficult time for everybody.
It’s important right now to remember that nobody has the perfect playbook for how people should feel and respond during this pandemic. There is no book, journal article, or tweet which can give us the perfect answer for how to deal with this pandemic as educators and humans. Ms. Dincher’s tweet and the importance of grace during these trying times, however, might help everybody get through this stronger than when it started.
The world would be a better place with a little more grace extended to everybody. Thanks for remind me of that, Ms. Dincher!
Saturdays are my time to reflect on what I read, heard, and discussed throughout the week. It is my “exit ticket” for the last seven days. So here are three ideas that made me think this week. (They are not in any particular order.)
1 – My daughter and I have spent a good deal of the quarantine learning about individuals who have fought injustices in the world. This included watching the movie Just Mercy, which is based on the memoir of the same name by attorney Bryan Stevenson. If you have not read the book, please read it as soon as you can. It is a phenomenal book about how the justice system is stacked against the poor and individuals of color, especially in the south. One of Mr. Stevenson’s quotes has been on my mind a lot lately: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. That’s a pretty powerful idea. His speech is one of the best Ted Talks I’ve even seen.
2 – I recently heard the term negativity bias. This is the psychological notion that even if a person is exposed to an equal amount of negative and positive information, the negative information will have a greater impact. This obviously has implications far greater than education right now. This will be a more detailed blog post in the future.
3 – This is a spot usually reserved for an uplifting or funny video. This dad dresses up in costumes every day to keep his daughter entertained during the quarantine. That’s top notch dad work right there!
My goal at the beginning of the year was to blog every day for the entire year. Of course, when I decided to take that challenge, I could not have predicted what the year 2020 had in store for the world and the education system. I was able to blog the first three months of the year. Then, as COVID-19 started to really affect our daily lives at the end of March, I decided I needed to step away to focus on shifting to online learning.
After regrouping for a month and a half, I’ve decided to get back to blogging. I’m not sure if I will be back to blogging daily. We’ll see what the next few weeks and months look like. I do, however, want to get back to blogging.
Thanks to everybody who read the blog for the first few months of the year. I hope the next few months will help us reconnect with the upcoming posts.