How to Fix the Educational Crisis
The Only Time to Teach Anything!
The lunch schedule at my school is a thing of administrative beauty. Fourth period is our designated lunch period, but we don’t give them the entire period to eat. Rather, students have only 25 minutes during the period to gulp down their lunch. They either get "A," "B," or "C" lunch. The "A" lunch period is 25 minutes of lunch, then two 25 minute periods of actual instruction with a five minute passing period wedged in between. Of course, the bells ring and interrupt the classes, but the students and teachers get used to it pretty quickly. Mostly, these students complain because they have to eat lunch so early in the day and then get hungry around fifth period. If a student has "C" lunch, they attend the first two 25 minutes of class then proceed to their lunch. Most of these students complain how hungry they are by the time "C" lunch rolls around. On the other hand, if you are one of the chosen few like me, then you happen to have the fortune of "B" lunch. Students must attend the first 25 minutes of class, then a bell signals the beginning of lunch. Of course, tardy bells ring as well as the warning bell; three chimes in a row designed to warn students that they only have one more minute to get to class. Twenty-five minutes later lunch is over and students return to the second half of the same class for another 25 minutes. In the course of this one period, the bell rings 10 times!
During that "B" lunch, I have a student who eats his lunch in my room. He doesn’t want to sit in our aromatic cafeteria nor contend with the high school lunch rituals of who sits with whom. Two minutes after the tardy bell for the second half of class rings he raises his hand. "Mr. M? Can I please go to the bathroom?" he asks. Thirty minutes in my room during lunch and he barely moves; two minutes into instruction and his bladder will explode if I don't let him go.
This spurs my brain into high gear. When is the optimal time to teach? When exactly can I combine my pedagogical skills with a student’s mental abilities to maximize my instruction? I think I have the answer!
On Mondays, most students have hangovers or are super tired from the Justin Bieber concert and simply can not concentrate. Simply put, Mondays are no good. By Wednesday, all these hormone-laden teenagers can think about is that it is the middle of the week and it’s half over. (It’s not called hump day for nothing, after all)! When Thursday rolls around, it’s one day closer to Friday and everyone is discussing their weekend plans. Thursday has now become a total loss. With everyone thinking about the weekend and making last minute plans, Friday is naturally out. (Now you know why so many teachers in elementary school have Fridays as project days)!
So that leaves Tuesday as the most optimal day to teach. The problem is, periods are set up much like the days of the week. As students stumble into first period, they are still waking up or recovering from the night. So first period is a total wash. Third period is out because they are finally awake but hungry and thinking only of lunch. Fourth period is lunch, and nothing educational ever happens with teenagers when food is involved, regardless the sickening quality of the cafeteria food! After lunch comes fifth period, but by now they’ve overeaten and are all lethargic and satiated. By sixth period, they are already looking forward to seventh period and have no idea what you are talking about. "Johnny, can you conjugate the verb spielen for me?" "Wait.... What? I’m taking German?" Mercifully last period comes around and it is a total waste because during class students can only think about one thing: going home.
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So there you have it. The process of elimination proves that second period is the only practical time in which teachers can effectively teach and students might learn. On the other hand, the average attention span for teenagers is about fifteen minutes. Put it all together and I propose we teach fifteen minutes during second period on Tuesdays only! That would fix everything!