Here We Go Again

It’s the day after Labor Day in the US, the opening day of another school year around here, and in many other districts.

I’m not in the classroom anymore1, but I still get a pleasant feeling of optimism every fall as we start, with the belief and hope that every student will be successful. I’ve been fortunate to have that largely optimism realized by each following June, with a few exceptions, of course.

Even with that, I still think we need to make some major changes to the standard academic calendar observed by most schools, as I ranted about a week or so ago. In a comment, Chris wondered why it was so hard to close schools in June and open them again in September.

I want to know why it’s so much work to start and stop. Have a chance to engage in some reflection and planning. Stop the mail, put the laptops away, and plan for when the painters can come in and touch up the walls.

This is hard?

Actually, opening and closing school is not all that difficult, I just think there are better ways to use time, money and effort involved in the process.

I certainly agree that we need to build some downtime into school to reflect and plan, for students as well as teachers. However, I would rather see that time spread out over a year-long schedule rather than clumped into one big break.

A calendar that continues to break the year into four quarters with a three week break in-between is the most common year-round plan, and one that our district experimented with in a few elementary schools. The three-week break would still offer plenty of family time as well as much better opportunities for remediation than waiting until summer.

Combine that schedule with some new instructional and curriculum ideas2 and we would have one big step towards some real reform.

Anyway, regardless of my wild ideas for change, I hope everyone shares the same optimism for their students as we begin this new school year.

1 In case you’re new to my mess, I’m one of those evil, lazy central office types whose students are more mature than most high school students. A few only slightly more. :-)

2 For example, not all students require four quarters to learn Algebra 1, while some could use more time. Not restricting learning to one nine month year would allow for more flexibility.