Education Week posted a thought-provoking blog by Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers last month that highlighted the need to change the structure of schools. We agree that change to the school schedule is needed.
“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be…“-Isaac Asimov
Why do we continue to keep an antiquated school schedule? Why are we afraid of school change? What we really should be focusing on is the needs of the students.
We think it’s time to transform schools to meet the needs of students to provide the 21st century education our students need so that schools are able to offer new tools and teaching strategies to keep students as eager, engaged and successful learners. On the flip side of that, we also need schools to meet the needs of teachers and keep teachers engaged, motivated, and challenged to learn. To do so, we must add more learning time to the school day and year in a way that is strategic and individualized to each community.
As we look to a purposeful shift to support students and meet the demands of the 21st century, we can use the successes of the more than 1,500 expanded time schools as models. The Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Boston redesigned their day with more time to fit students’ needs and passions and saw outstanding gains in both student achievement and engagement. Teachers at the Silvia School in Fall River use expanded time to enhance their collaboration time and empower teachers. The KIPP Network of public charter schools have seen a lot of success with their model of longer school days and years and building a strong school culture. Students leave KIPP empowered and ready to take on college and careers.
We know that change is hard, but we also know it’s necessary. As Daniel Porterfield wrote in Forbes :
“To strengthen American education, we must be willing to change.”
We couldn’t agree with this more. The school calendar is no longer a one-size fits all model. Every community needs to decide how to create a school schedule that best fits the needs of their students.
We want to see the schools break through that wall and start redesigning the school schedule to expand high-quality learning time for all students using expanded learning time as the catalyst for school change.