28 January 2012
The abbreviated school year
An interesting column in the StarTribune uses a series of calendars to depict the days available for teaching grade-school students. Above is a calendar of the year (arranged Sept to August), with the summer break blacked out.
Here is the calendar after blacking out weekends and major holidays:
There are some additional calendars at the link, ending with this one, which also blacks out professional development days, conferences, common holidays, spring break, and days for state and standardized testing:
There are only 162 days that wind up not being blacked out. Author Jeremy Olson asks, "What am I doing as a parent to supplement the apparently limited time in which my kids are at school to learn?"
The calendars also provide fuel for the endless arguments over teacher salaries.
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In the case of education, I'd be more focused on the quality and content, not on the shear quantity of hours spent inside the walls of the school.ReplyDelete
Just like Mike said. How many days does per year does all of that translate into? Here in Finland the law says that there must be 190 days (counting test days) in a year. We also have one of the shortest school days in Europe, yet fare well in comparative studies for education.ReplyDelete
According to a comment on another blog I read, "The standard of instruction for the US is 180 days, but in 2009 the legislature lowered the bar to a minimum of 175 days for California…"Delete
I am in favor of longer days and a shorter school year. Kids need time to be kids, and families need time to be families. And quit complaining about teacher salaries. When teachers are at work, they are actually "working." There are plenty of people who go to work, grab a coffee, take a lunch break, sit in a meeting, have an afternoon coffee break, and piddle around on the internet during their work day. None of which is afforded to teachers. Just sayin...ReplyDelete
Not to mention the extra hours of planning, preparing, marking, supervision & extracurricular activities. IMHO, teachers could never be paid commensurate to the value of their work. (I am Not a teacher, but I do work at a school & see how hard and how much 99% of them work.)Delete
Whaaat? "None of which is afforded to teachers." You think teachers don't "grab a coffee" or "take a lunch break" or "sit in a meeting" or "have an afternoon coffee break." ??Delete
Amen, every teacher friend I have spends hours before and after school working on their classes.Delete
Not to mention lesson planning, grading papers, contacting parents, continuing education classes, inservice days, etc. Supervision duties on prep period, covering other classes on prep period. And the inability to go to the bathroom except during lunch time.Delete
My wife is a grade one teacher and I see first-hand how hard and how much teachers work. I think they earn every penny they work for, and believe me when I say that a teachers work-schedule is just as hard as a 50-60 hour week working construction.
How do I know you wonder? I'm a framers and I build houses.
She's right beside me and also wanted me to add that there are days that she hasn't even had time to use the bathroom.
Willem, teachers CAN'T take an afternoon coffee break because, by law, they can't leave the classroom while students are there. When I was a teacher, and even as my recent experience as a sub, I had a 36 minute lunch, during which I also had to patrol the cafeteria. There were some days where I would turn out the lights in my classroom and draw the shades and hide during lunch so I could eat in solitude for once.ReplyDelete
And as for meetings, those happen either before or after our teaching hours, or we have to write plans for a substitute to teach, so even when I was absent, someone was responsible for their instruction. I had to expend energy and time to teach even when I wasn't physically present.
I couldn't even get a chance to pee during the day unless it was my prep period or lunch break (which, as I've already said, was only 36 minutes long).
And I worked hard planning my classes and advising clubs and student groups. I was on the (unpaid) scholarship committee, and I would attend school activities outside of my working hours, just to show commitment to my students. I sure to get tired of the "teachers work cushy hours" baloney.
I just started work at an accountant's office, and I work fewer hours there per week (40) than I did as a teacher, and I don't have to take anything home with me, either, to grade or plan for. So no, I didn't "sit in a meeting" or "have an afternoon coffee break" during instructional hours. When my students were in my room, I was working.
Ah... I didn't know that. I guess that's why they say you learn things at this blog.Delete
The problem with teacher's salaries is they get paid more because they are expected to work "off the clock." This creates multiple problems from it appearing that they get outrageous salaries for little work and you have some teachers that put in 20-30 extra hours a week and some that put in none. And, there's no holding the ones that do none accountable. Personally, I would prefer a system where we paid teachers less per hour but, put every hour they work on the clock. People would likely be more reasonable when they see that teachers often have 60+ hour work weeks and it would give a way to hold teachers accountable if they don't put in the effort educating our kids. It wouldn't fix a lot of problems but, it would certainly fix the public perception and time accountability ones.ReplyDelete
Teachers don't get paid much, especially compared to private sector workers with similar qualifications.Delete
When weather (or other problems) cut into the few remaining days and extend the school year to the end of June or cut into spring break, someone (IME) inevitably complains that the teachers' contracts prevent extending the school year into July. This, however, is entirely false. School districts want to have two full months without a full load of students in the buildings because they pay way more in insurance when school is open during a particular month than not.ReplyDelete
I have been teaching HS for 3 years, let's take this weekend as an example of what a teacher is expected to do on their off time. Between thursday and monday I have to:ReplyDelete
- Enter and finish final grades for 1 class
- Write, print, copy and collate syllabus's for new class
- Clean classroom to prepare for new students on tuesday
- Write lesson plan for monday's photo class
- Write lesson plan for monday's video production class
- Write plan for new class to carry through the week
- Write a 3 page essay for a SDIAE training class that I am required to take in order to keep my job (I also had to pay $600 out of pocket to take this class)
If I went and added red blocks to all the days I work outside the classroom and don't get paid for it you might be shocked. I work on average 10-15 hours per week and don't get paid, sometimes more. When teachers tell you that this job is hard, they aren't lying, trust me.
Well here you go, the red dots represent days that I do lesson planning, grading and all the other crap teachers have to do in order to keep our jobs, and I don't get paid for it.ReplyDelete
My mom advocated for a year-round school schedule. I hated it at the time but I see the sense of it now. Many teachers are compelled to spend the first month playing catch-up because their class has forgotten things during the break. We are no longer a farming economy -- we don't need kids to be out harvesting in the summer. Some people argue that kids need the summer months to earn money and while I can't disagree with that, it may be worthwhile to ask how many high schoolers are employed and whether or not we can't find another way to accommodate their financial needs (for instance, does everyone need to complete high school? Mightn't it be possible to create apprenticeship programs for young adults who have no interest in going to college beyond "getting a good job"? I understand there are risks with this because it would be very easy to discriminate on color and economic status. At the same time, however, it may do something to help with college costs AND securing all Americans a worthwhile job. In any event, it could be something to consider.)ReplyDelete
I think we're past due to examine how and what we teach our children and what we think they should have coming out of high school.
How about 4 days a week, year 'round, giving Fridays or whichever for grading, meeting parents, etc?ReplyDelete
I am pretty bitter regarding the educational system but then I was a victim of the LAUSD.
The old codgers were bitter, at least one was a complete drunk (my algebra teacher who took role, left for 20 minutes, came back to write the homework on the board and take role again - every day. We graded our own work...) and they KNEW how to milk the system (trip to India this summer? don't mind if I do!). The fresh new faces were layed off every other year it seemed while the dead wood rotted and did little for us (there were exceptions).
Verdugo Hills High School, Tujunga, Ca - (Just up the hill from Hollywood).
My highschool education was obstructed by the entertainment industry. We were even denied access to our lockers (no book = a zero for the day in some classes) We had to sit on the lawn, in the gym, out on the field - anywhere that wasn't where the camera crews were shooting that week. These were wasted weeks. And we all wondered, who is benefiting from the money? There must be movie money going somewhere...