Teachers and students can learn to love a longer school day, writes Liz Riggs in The Atlantic. But the time has to be used effectively to get buy-in.
Many charter schools have extended the school day to give students more learning time. Now districts are experimenting with longer days at low-performing schools.
At a Philadelphia high school, the day is 30 minutes longer for students, who take classes from 8 am to 3:17 pm. Teachers hold office hours till 4 pm.
While teachers are in school for an hour and 15 minutes longer than other teachers in the district, they actually teach less than they would in a traditional public school.
“Teachers are totally on board,” (the principal) says. “Teachers love having that designated time [after school] to be with students, and it does free up their time during the other parts of the school day, and parents love it—especially at the high school level.”
“Extended school days can also provide structured planning time for teachers,” writes Riggs. “Without this built-in time, teachers end up working additional hours after school and on the weekends, clocking in as much time as they would if the day were extended—if not more.”
When he started teaching at a Memphis charter school, Andrew Davis had two hours a day to plan and collaborate with other teachers. He loved the planning time, but the long school day was “exhausting.” The academic day ran from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. — or later for students with extracurriculars. As cross-country coach, Davis would be at school for 13 to 14 hours a day.
With teachers burning out and students acting up, the school shortened the school day by one hour.