Schedules at school have been challenging this year. COVID protocols meant staggered lunches and as the newest member of the grade level team, I started this school year with a lunch time so early it felt like brunch! The problem with an early lunch is that the afternoon (with 6 years olds) felt interminable. I was able to negotiate a slightly later lunch after the first couple of weeks–and 20 minutes really did help, but afternoons continued to be a struggle.
A few weeks ago as the Omicron surge began to level off, the rumbles of change started vibrating through our staff. Could we have students line up on the playground instead of waiting outside the classroom as they arrived on campus in the morning? What about letting students play before school for the 10 minutes before the bell rang?
And then a more seismic shift started, could grade levels share a common lunch time? A common afternoon recess? I was definitely in favor of this change–and a complete overhaul of my daily schedule. All of my recess times would change and I would gain precious instructional minutes in the morning and shorten that afternoon when student engagement was so troubling.
It was decided that our new schedule would begin when we came back from our February Family Week break…yesterday!
My Monday was magical! No, not perfect, but the difference was so significant that I felt like singing from the rafters! My students are engaged in meaningful learning right up to our 10am recess. They come back and continue with focus up until our 11:30 lunch. After lunch we settle in for 50 minutes until our afternoon recess and manage to maintain focus right up to our 2:35 dismissal–at least that was true for the last two days.
Honestly, these have been the best 2 days of the entire school year. Do schedules really make that much of a difference? Were these last 2 days just a fluke of timing? Can a shift of 25 minutes at the start of lunch change everything about how learning happens?
I don’t yet know for sure…but it feels like the best thing that has happened in a while. Maybe “normal” is in the little things, like lunch at lunch time, play before school, and breaks with my colleagues. This schedule change feels like a win.
Schedules are SO important! I really hope this positive trend continues for you. At my school, the 6th graders have PE and electives at the end of the day. Every time I pass those classroom around 2pm I feel so grateful that I get to teach during the more focused morning hours.
Schedules make such a huge difference! I’m glad yours is moving in a more positive direction!
It sounds like the new schedule is a definite win for you and your 6 year olds! I firmly believe that playtime before school and an even distribution of working times and recesses is essential for little kids AND teachers to thrive. I hope the rest of the week on the new schedule stays amazing!
Yay for positive changes! Our schedule has been a real problem this year, although Covid is a minor factor. It does make a huge difference how the day is scheduled and it’s so often out of our control. Enjoy!
I think the combination of a change you were happy about and the small things that affect small children made this new schedule work so well. Schedules are important and it’s so hard to get the just right one.