There is a growing trend amongst public K-12 schools throughout the country, and it is a shift in scheduling. Flexible school year calendars are a happy medium between a traditional school year calendar and a year-round calendar, providing relief, retention, and renewal.
The verdict? Teachers approve, and so do students and their parents. A flexible school year calendar typically has a starting date a week or two weeks earlier than the traditional one. This seems early at first, but it still gives teachers and families six to seven weeks of summer break, and most agree that is plenty. By beginning the school year earlier, this time is now given back into more frequent and more prolonged breaks during the school year. This new schedule gives educators and students much-needed breaks during the school year, resulting in fewer absences from students and teachers.
With a flexible calendar, teachers tend to take fewer personal days during the school year because they schedule dental appointments and similar outings for the various breaks the flexible calendar affords. Doing so limits reliance on substitute teachers, a chronic shortage for years. Families can also plan vacations that will no longer cut into school time and throughout different times of the year rather than just the summer, which will accommodate varying work schedules and family budgets. Summer break is a little shorter, but most agree that’s ok because by the time August comes around, everyone is ready to get back to school anyway, and most would rather have time off during the school year instead. A shorter summer break also means there is less time for “brain drain” from students, and it helps them retain and recall what they’ve learned in the previous year.
When Gulfport School District in Mississippi began considering a year-round school, in addition to student-centered benefits around retention and learning, they also hoped it would help reduce teacher burnout. Teachers who get summer jobs sometimes worry that a year-round calendar will take income away by preventing them from obtaining summer employment. However, they can earn extra money by working through intercession and supplement their income right out of their classroom because they will be paid additional funds.
Intercessions are provided during the additional time off for academically struggling students who need extra help. Teachers can work with these students in small learning groups during the intercession time and are paid extra income. Flexible calendaring, by default, provide greater economic support to education companies and organizations, as resources will be needed nearly year-round between the school calendar, intercession breaks, summer school, and planning for the next school year.
Change can be difficult at first, especially when something has been in place for such a long, like a traditional school year calendar. However, be mindful of Grace Hopper’s wise words… “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘we’ve always done it this way.” Not all change is bad. Some of it is very much needed. In this particular instance, change was and is required. The proof of that is in the feedback from educators and their students, who are seeing great benefits in this new flexible calendar becoming more popular throughout K-12 schools in the country.
Written by: Meredith Biesinger
Professional Writer/ Education Specialist
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