What is Year Round Schooling?
Year round schooling – if you are a teacher or administrator, you either love the idea or hate it. It is a term that is all about change, and we know that change makes people nervous. It means having the school open all year round, changing schedules, and more teacher preparation. Sounds scary, but it does not have to be because there are many forms of year round schooling that could be beneficial to the increasing population of students within the schools today.
Teachers are faced with large class size and inclusion and tend to get burned out very easily. Teachers who are just starting out and teachers who have been teaching for years are trying to teach too many children with a broad range of ability levels. Scheduling could be a solution to this problem by spanning school education over the whole calendar instead of the current ten month plan. Some examples could be 9 weeks in school and 3 weeks vacation, 12 weeks in school and 4 weeks vacation, or 18 weeks in school and 6 weeks vacation. The single track option of year round schooling would reduce the number of vacation days and teachers would be able to spend less time reviewing and more time teaching new material.
Year round schooling may not be the answer, but it sure is a push in the right direction. Schools who are looking for a change in how to handle the overwhelming number of students can certainly take a look at this option. There is a multiple track scheduling that will accommodate groups of students (K-1, 2-3, 4-5, etc.) and each would rotate following one of the year round calendar option. The school would essentially be open all year, but would be able to handle the enormous student population.
There are plenty of reasons why schools would not want to adopt this type of calendar schedule. For one, cost effectiveness may decrease due the school being used for twelve months instead of the traditional ten. There are mixed results on whether or not student academic achievement on tests increases, decreases, or stays the same. Teachers would have more planning to do and less vacation time to do it. Older students would not be able to get summer jobs, due to the lack of a summer vacation, and younger students would miss out on summer camp activities.
With that in mind, would schools benefit from adopting a year round calendar? Would students benefit from being educated all year instead of the traditional nine month block? Some say yes to both. Schools would be able to handle the increase in students and teach them more effectively. Students would be more likely to retain information and therefore learning would flow instead of being received in chunks. Intersessions would be able to provide remedial help or enrichment programs to better meet the needs of the students. Teachers and students would have steadier breaks which would lead to decreased absenteeism.
Year round schooling alone cannot guarantee success for teachers and students. It is a process that must be accompanied by improvement of curriculum and instruction. Resources must be provided to facilitate the necessary changes, new activities must be initiated by the school and the teachers to promote learning, and communication is a necessity between administrators, teachers, and parents in order for this to continue to work and be successful.
What Do You Think?
If a change is needed then this seems to be an option that could be feasible for any school district. Sometimes we have to take a look at what we have, what we want, and try to decide which is best. Tradition has its place, but we have to decide when and where it is appropriate. The schools are in dire need of a better way of functioning, with so much emphasis placed on them and so little support for them. We need to stop thinking of ourselves and start thinking what is best for our children.