Half days lead to half the learning

Joe Bravo, Staff Writer

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“[There is] no time to do anything,” exclaimed senior Audrey Painter. “There isn’t time for teachers to get in an actual lesson, so we are forced to do busy work that is pointless.”

Along with Painter, this is how most high schoolers and even teachers feel about “half-days” at our school.

As class begins, students file into their rooms, teachers begin to start the lesson, and it seems that before pupils can even open their books, the bell rings, dismissing class. MHS’s  early release days are frustrating for everyone involved because they don’t allow enough time for lesson plans and they discourage student attendance.

“It’s like a skip day for students,” said anatomy and biology teacher Kathy Simmermon. “Students will likely miss what a teacher has planned.” Thus, we shouldn’t even have these days because even if a teacher plans something students often miss these days.

The Huron Valley School District adopted the use of half days last year in place of Teacher-in-Service days in which students would have a full school day off. Although the full days off occurred less often, they are ultimately better suited to our district.

On an Early Release day, students attend school from 7:16-10:46 and teachers remain working for the full day. Instead of having a full hour to teach a lesson, teachers are left with 35 minutes to crank out a lecture, discussion, test, essay assignment, etc. This simply is not enough time. Often, this pushes students to stay home in place of enduring a day of busy work and lack of learning

“We can’t plan a lot for these days,” said Simmermon. “I use these days mostly for reinforcement days, for the kids to review what we learned the day before.

For many teachers of rigorous academic classes, an hour is not enough time, let alone 35 minutes.  Particularly, math teachers struggle to get through a complete and thorough lesson.

“Half days are overrated; we don’t have time to take a rigorous test or even get a whole lesson in,” said senior Lexi Mcfall who takes AP calculus.  Many teachers decide to assign nearly meaningless coursework in efforts to fill the time since regular lesson plans are more suited for a full hour.

Some math department instructors decide to allow students to work on the homework that was assigned the day before during early release days. However, it’s unnecessary for this task to be performed in the classroom as students would have completed it the night before at home.

Frankly, the requirement that students go to class on half days is merely a waste of their time since the work assigned on these days could easily be accomplished from home.

“It’s a waste of a day,” exclaimed senior Jessica Fisher. “There’s no point for me to drive there and back and do little to no work that I could easily accomplish at home.”

Likewise, Advanced Placement (AP) classes are not structured for a 35-minute class period. AP classes must prepare students for exams in May; however, half days are only hindering that process. AP teachers do not have the necessary time to complete a scrupulous lecture on the early release schedule, so many opt out and assign the class worksheets or even simply display a video. The work assigned on these days is often limited to none, which only diminishes the value of education each student receives.

It would be more beneficial to both teachers and students for Huron Valley Schools to return to utilizing Teacher-in-Service days each term instead of half days. This would allow teachers the necessary time for lessons each day of the school year, would still maintain the same amount of time for teachers to work without the students in class, and would not discourage attendance since students would already have the Teacher-in-Service day off. If the half days remain, MHS will continue to see a pattern of skipping on these days and frustration will carry on.

“We [the students] shouldn’t be waking up to do nothing,” said Painter.

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Half days lead to half the learning