Fit for Learning “Point --- Counter Point”
Fit for Learning “Point --- Counter Point”
Members have requested that RYH aggregate school experiences share them and offer ideas for potential solutions. Great idea, we already have many questions from members below. Remember it is critical for the entire school community of principal/administration, teachers, parents and students to work together to determine how your school can move to the child centric Regular Schedule. As questions arise, your job is to offer productive solutions. Please share additional questions from your school by posting a reply to this section. We will continue to provide updates.
What is my goal for the next LSC meeting?
Your goal is to get the committee process started. If your school is on the Closed Schedule, a committee must evaluate whether to remain closed each school year as outlined in CTU contract section 4-13. (The committee consists of the principal, a school delegate, 3 teachers and 3 LSC parents.) See applicable section in the RYH Getting Started Guide. Ideally, you want to get this topic on the agenda by talking to your LSC or principal. You can also send a letter to the LSC and a sample is included in the RYH Getting Started Guide. You will likely have a lively discussion and you should take note of the questions and concerns. Send them into RYH and we can help you find solutions by posting them here. We have yet to see a question that does not have a logical solution that benefits the children.
Do CPS and the CTU really support the Regular Schedule?
YES! The CTU President Karen Lewis stated in the April 6th Sun Times front page article. "....she favors having all elementary school teachers consider moving their lunch from the end of the day to the middle." She also is quoted, Recess "is good for kids and it's good for teachers," who lunch and confer together during it. "That's a win-win."
CPS supports schools moving to the child centric Regular Schedule and indicated in the February Chicago Board of Education meeting that they believe this schedule should be the norm, rather than the exception within CPS. They are working diligently to provide a tool kit to assist school administrators, teachers, parents and community members to evaluate moving to the child centric Regular Schedule. The tool kit will be sent to all Principals and LSCs shortly.
My school is on the Closed Schedule, but we are lucky to have recess too.
This may be true, but you need to check if your school is cutting into instructional time. We have talked to several parents at schools that seem to be cutting into instructional time to provide recess. It is pretty easy to figure out. A 5h45m student school day does not allow much flexibility. The State requirement is 1500 minutes of instructional time per week, which is 5 hours per day. This only leaves 45 minutes which is usually used for the 20 minute lunch and 25 split between AM/PM homeroom where children hand in homework, say the pledge and get settled in or ready to go home. This leaves only 5 hours to provide the required 5 hours of instructional time, and does not include any transition time as children switch classes. IF YOUR SCHOOL OFFERS ANY RECESS, they may very well be cutting into the instructional time.
The good news is that your school obviously already understands the value of recess and the benefits to the children and teachers. Also, the school is already successfully implementing recess so the students understand how recess works and the teachers already handle any disputes. The bad news is that it is not acceptable (nor allowed) for a school to cut into instructional time when there is a Regular Schedule available that provides time for recess. Your school should move to the Regular Schedule to restore this lost instructional time. Even if it is only 10 minutes, that translates to the loss of 1.14 weeks of instructional time. If it is 20 minutes, the loss is 2.28 lost instructional weeks. (20 minutes x 171 school days = 3420 lost minutes / 1500 required instructional minutes per week = 2.28 lost weeks of instruction per school year.)
We do not have to do it this year, we can wait.
Why wait? The best time to determine the change is NOW, before the end of the school year. This will allow for all the logistics of bus, scheduling, facilities to be mapped out so your school community can make the change for the 2011-2012 school year. Every year to a child is very important. There is a sense of urgency among parents to have their children benefit NOW. The option already contractually exists and it is the exact same hours of work for administrators and teachers---just configured to be child centric. Administrators may not share this sense of urgency, but parents need to speak for the children. This is available today, CTU and CPS support moving to the Regular Schedule and it is clearly a child centric schedule. Parents need to speak for their children!
Our Playground is a mess and has beer bottles, broken glass, etc.
This is the perfect opportunity for a community clean-up. Parents can organize and do the clean up. Involve your Alderman and local businesses to help. In addition, have parent volunteers do a quick walk through your playground during the week especially after the weekend to clear out any additional items that end up in school playgrounds. We do live in the city and this is already an issue for the children who are outside in the morning before the bell rings.
Students will lose instructional time while teachers take care of behavior or physical issues resulting from extended recess.
Research clearly shows that behavior issues go down with recess and important unstructured time. Sitting all day with no physical activity is not the answer, nor is keeping children from unstructured interactions to avoid inevitable disagreements.
Your school community needs to have a plan to integrate recess back into the student day. You may want to have a school assembly and clearly explain the rules and boundaries of recess. Zero tolerance fighting policy, anti-bullying policy which all schools should already have in place. This is the perfect opportunity for your school community to engage students to be part of the solution. Students can be given leadership opportunities as play leaders, hall escorts and all can be empowered to ensure fair play. A school wide mechanism for dispute resolution has been highly successful. Something as simple as rock-paper-scissors used through the entire school is an easy way to help children learn the important life lessons recess provides.
Schools should already have plans in place if children are injured. True, the incidence may increase and the school needs to ensure it follows the necessary procedures.
No instructional time added to the day.
It is fantastic that teachers and parents want more instructional time! The Regular Schedule does not add instructional time (unless your school cuts into instructional time to provide recess—see above). The Regular Schedule will aid the instructional time you do have because students are more Fit for Learning. Teachers have told us that students are more focused and they are able to get more quality out of the instructional time when recess and important unstructured time are part of the school day.
It is also important to understand that the Regular Schedule “decompresses” the school day. Map out the current student day and how that day would look using the Regular Schedule. Now think about the school day----FROM A CHILDS PERSPECTIVE. Put yourself in their gym shoes! Which day would you want your child to experience every day?
Not enough staff to adequately supervise children.
Scheduling current staff will be a challenge and probably the most difficult part of the transition. Until a school goes through a thorough review process, it is difficult to say whether there is enough staff. Use the CPS resources that are committed to helping schools transition to the Regular Schedule. Look at the list of schools that already provide the child centric Regular Schedule. Your principal or AP may want to talk to their colleagues at these schools that successfully use the Regular Schedule. Consider all staff, principal, AP, security, aides, gym, art, music, technology teachers, etc. Enlist parent volunteers to supplement. You may need to consider hiring supplemental coverage. As one school noted, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Remember this is about the children!
Rahm will extend the day, we don’t have to.
If Rahm adds instructional time, it is more important to adopt the Regular Schedule opportunity. Look at your child’s daily schedule and imagine from a child's perspective adding, for example, 40 minutes of instruction! (We look forward to the final outcome, but do not know how much time, what it contains, how or when this will actually be implemented to benefit the children.) The Regular Schedule is a more child centric day using the same number of compensated hours. It is available today!
A school’s purpose is not to provide recess time.
When you think of “recess” isn’t it at a school? Where else would it be? Kids are not just “small adults”. Kids need recess because it provides an opportunity for physical activity which is proven to enhance cognitive skills and academic achievement. Please see the RYH Getting Started Guide section on the benefits of Recess!
After school programs would bet pushed back.
Yes, by 45 minutes. Some schools have activities before school; others have kept them after school. Some schools have “brown bag” lunch clubs and activities. Maybe your school wants to consider an earlier start time. In December, sunset is at about 4:20pm.
There is not enough space on the playground for all the kids at once.
Most schools using the Regular Schedule have multiple lunch shifts. You may want to consider multiple lunch periods. See the schedule example in the FFL Getting Started Guide. Schools also flip/flop lunch groups. For example one lunch period may have 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. During this period, 1st and 3rd have lunch first / then recess while the 2nd and 4th grades have recess first / then lunch. Thus four grades are having the “lunch/recess” period at the same time, but the volume of students in any given location is half because of the flip/flop. This is a very common scheduling tactic used by schools.
Where do kids go in the winter?
Outside on most days! See the FFL Getting Started Guide which covers inclement weather. Your school will need both an Outdoor and Indoor schedule ready for the first day of school. Schools that use the Regular Schedule have indicated they stay indoors very few days; however this varies year to year. Since there is no standard temperature policy across CPS, many schools use the “feels like” 20 degrees or above for the students to go outside. You will need to be creative in using your indoor space. Schools use, auditorium, gym, library, labs, hallways and any other space on indoor recess days. Play games like bingo, color, sing-a-long, dance, yoga, or power walk the hallways. Some schools also combine classes and use classrooms and the teachers go to another space for lunch only on these inclement weather days. Work together as a school community to come up with creative uses of the space you have available. Try to work in physical activity and free social time.
There will be bullying on the playground.
CPS has a zero tolerance anti-bullying policy. If your school does not have a plan, make sure they get it in place. The playground is where children learn important life skills by socializing and resolving conflict. Set the expectations and boundaries with students and encourage them to be part of the solution.
Special Needs children may be made fun of if they are at recess with the rest of the students.
The answer is not to isolate children with special needs, the goal should be inclusion. These students have aides who can help navigate the playground and are trained to address the needs of these students. This is the perfect opportunity for children to learn and appreciate differences. Parents should talk to their children about respecting all individuals for who they are and school administration should already have plans in place for inclusion.