Sunday, December 20, 2009

Free Time

Students at Chief Sealth don’t seem to get too much free time. They have 5 minutes between classes, no free periods, and a 30 minute lunch (with a 5 minute passing period on either side) which I imagine must feel rushed after waiting in line in the cafeteria (though I have no first hand knowledge of how long this takes—I microwave my lunch in the staff lounge). They also have a 20 minute DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) period everyday before 2nd period. I wonder if this is truly enough free time for students. In their five minute passing periods plus lunch they have to go to the bathroom, get their stuff from their locker, run errands (like turning in forms, etc.), get a drink of water, and catch up with friends. To me it doesn’t seem like a sufficient amount of time to get all of one’s human and social needs met. Of course there is after school time. But I remember when I went to high school, I had a 40 or 45 minute lunch, plus I sometimes had an extra free 40/45 minute period during the same day. Passing periods on some days were also 10 minutes long. We also had advisory and community meeting (can’t remember how many days a week that was) for catching up with friends and the community. My school day was a little longer, but it didn’t seem quite so packed and structured. I wonder what has led to our schedule taking its current form. Is it pressure to let school out early for the sake of sports? Is it so that the school day is a shorter number of hours to reduce salaries? And why does it start so early in the morning (8:05)? Every study I know says that adolescents need more sleep than adults and that their circadian rhythms (or whatever they are) tend to push their sleep window later in the night. When my students side-talk in class, I wonder if some of their socializing is necessary, and if I need to somehow build in to the structure of the classroom time for kids to talk and get to know each other better.

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