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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Redwood minimum days hamper students’ learning

Every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m, the bell rings at Redwood Middle School. This bell does not signal the beginning of lunch, but the end of the school day. Students shuffle into hallways, clutching their backpacks as they wait for their parents to pick them up, excited for a few extra hours of relaxation time. 
This school year, the Redwood administration implemented a new bell schedule. Instead of having minimum days once a month, the school has decided to make every Wednesday a half day. Each of the seven periods has only 30 minutes of class time. 
Though this schedule seems relaxing, it is not as productive for teachers, students and parents. 
For their part, teachers likely have to scramble to go over anything noteworthy during such a short amount of class time. Even if teachers manage to fit a condensed lesson into the short period, the level of depth would not be enough to properly benefit students. 
Most importantly, the shorter class periods will make middle schoolers’ transition into the 95 and 100-minute high school block periods even more difficult. Current eighth graders will soon be sitting in the same chair for more than three times the amount of time they previously spent in class, which can make any person restless and unable to soak in new information.
The old schedule, which included two minimum days per month, acted as a slight transition into high school periods, since classes on minimum days were of similar length to the block periods. Middle schoolers were therefore able to get a feel for the lengthy class time and were not as surprised to experience the high school classes. 
In addition, Redwood students’ seven classes are broken up only by one 10-minute break between periods three and four. The middle schoolers, consequently, are blasted with information from seven teachers on a time crunch, with no opportunity to relax besides this short break. 
Breaks are beneficial to learning, since they allow students process the information they just learned. Redwood students, however, are barely able to grasp anything taught in class on Wednesdays, and one must wonder if it is worthwhile to come to school at all on half days.
Additionally, parents must take time out of their busy work schedules to pick up students at the irregular time. 
Many parents have jobs that require them to work a certain numbers of hours each day. Those who decide to pick up students at 12:45 p.m. must take valuable time out of their schedules to get their students, bring them home and then provide lunch for them. 
This takes even more time out of their schedules, time that they could have used to finish a project or collaborate with colleagues. 
Not all parents, however, can pick up their students from school in the middle of the afternoon; these students are forced to wait before they can finally go home. The school library closes soon after the last class ends, so students are not able to wait there for very long. 
In the Redwood Reporter, the school’s newsletter, principal Kelly Green said the short days were created to allow teachers to receive training about Common Core State Standards with 21st Century Learning skills. 
Each Wednesday, teachers train and attend workshops, with the purpose of helping them to implement the state standards into their classes.
If the Redwood administration desires more time for staff development, it could instead adopt a similar schedule to the high school’s, in which teachers collaborate before school begins each Wednesday. 
This way, Redwood students and teachers would not lose valuable learning time, and parents would no longer have to choose between leaving their children and taking time off of work. 
Alternatively, the administration could switch back to having two minimum days per month, instituting a more rigorous training program to achieve the same results of weekly minimum days.
Principal Green’s newsletter stated that the school is focusing majorly on academics this year. If the administration truly wants a commitment to learning, however, it will make a new schedule — with a minimum number of minimum days.
 
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