After the two-week long winter break, most students are not exactly excited to go back to school. However, the complete opposite was true in Ashley Tam’s third grade math class at Genevieve Melody Elementary School in Chicago. When Tam asked a question on the second day back from break, all twenty students immediately threw their hands in the air, begging to be the one to give the answer. What makes this even more surprising is the fact that the students were not only readjusting to being in class after their break, they were also adjusting to a longer school day. Melody Elementary School is the 13th public school in Chicago to lengthen its school-day to last 7.5 hours, instead of the traditional 5 hour and 45 minutes schedule.
“I think the kids have adapted faster than we have,” said Tiffany Tillman, the assistant principal at the elementary school.
Sixteen of the twenty teachers at Melody Elementary School recently voted to waive parts of their union contracts in order to make the school day longer. In return, they received between $800 and $1,200 in stipends.
The thirteen schools in Chicago that are test-driving this longer school day are pioneering the way for the rest of the schools in the district. Next year, all of the schools in the Chicago Public School District will implement the 7.5-hour school day. This is important because it will make Chicago the first major city to add a substantial amount of time to the school-day, district-wide.
So where is the extra time going? Each grade spends the extra time differently, according to the students needs. However, all grades are having longer math and reading classes. In a school district that has been failing its students for a long time, it seems like the ability to spend more time working with the students and teaching them these important subjects is definitely a good thing.
And how are the students adapting to this longer school-day?
“It’s a long day for 8-year-olds,” said Tam. “They’re adjusting well, but by 3 they wanted to nap.”
Via The New York Times