FAQ: No School on Fridays?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Q: You really have no school on Fridays!?!? What do working parents do with their kids on Friday? What about the number of days the state requires?

A: Yes really! The four-day week is one of the first unusual things that stands out to people when they're looking at Flint Academy. It's a big selling point for cranky high school students and worn out teachers, let me tell you!

As far as childcare for working parents, it hasn't been too much of a problem. In the past we have offered a Friday option but every time we've tried it...only one or two people have signed up. For a lot of our younger students with working parents, Fridays have become grandparent days, which is awesome. When that isn't a possibility, lots of families have worked out childcare with one another, trading Friday work hours for a Saturday night date, for example. I really think that part of the reason childcare hasn't been much of an issue is because (and I will say this with my dying breath) this is a village! We are all here for each other, all the time. 

Also, the State of Texas doesn't mandate a set number of school days per year for private schools. The State of Texas doesn't mandate much at all for private schools (other than we have to teach Texas history, which is hardly a burden - who wouldn't want to learn about Texas history?) because the State of Texas is awesome like that.

Schools all over the U.S. are starting to explore the idea of a four day week, and they're finding out what we already knew - it's crazy effective. I found dozens of articles and studies on the trend with just a quick little Google search, here's a few if you're curious: New York Magazine Huffington Post Georgia State University the AASA US News 

The biggest benefit to the students is that they have time to just be, something that children aren't getting nearly enough of. They get to recharge, run around, play, maybe even get dirty. Hopefully they even get the chance to be really and deeply bored, since it is basically impossible to develop any imagination if you never experience boredom. If you let it be, "I'm bored" is the first step to something magical happening. On a totally different note, older students have more time available to get a part-time job and learn equally magical things like responsibility and work ethic and Finishing High School is Important Because I Don't Want to Do This Kind of Job Forever.
Plus, if you want to go someplace cool like the aquarium or Six Flags or a movie? There are WAY less crowds on a Friday morning.  

You also end up with teachers who are better rested and balanced, who get a chance to miss their students over the weekend, and who have had time to come up with amazing lesson plans. In their pajamas. Like rock stars. Never underestimate the power of a teacher who has been able to do laundry, take their kid to the dentist, clean the house, cut out five thousand folder activity pieces while binging on Netflix, and talk to their spouse. Come Monday morning? That teacher is fully prepared to change the WORLD one student at a time. I'm going to post specifically about individualization later, but I will say here that individualization at Flint means that most of the amazing lesson plans that we have time to write on Fridays are per student. As in, a different plan for each child. Each day. Each subject. You can see how that would be a little time consuming.

And just as the teachers are ready to bring it, so are the students. They aren't dragging and despondent, looking ahead to an endless week of drudgery. Well, we're pretty light on drudgery anyhow, but it's also psychological. Just knowing that they get Friday off helps the students work hard all week long, without collapsing into useless puddles of goo by lunchtime at the end of the week. It also really cuts down on absences and sick days, for students and teachers both, which gives us a much more seamless education overall. At Flint we value quality over quantity all day long forever. Read two good books thoroughly instead of skimming over fifteen. Learn everything you can about a few historical events (or scientific and mathematical concepts! Or art techniques! Or basketball fundamentals!) rather than zooming through a whirlwind overview.  Work hard and learn deeply for four days instead of superficially for five. That's our hill and we will die on it.

(Metaphorically. No one is going to die. Unless you try to make us take standardized tests, in which case I can't be held responsible for your safety.)

As someone who is both a parent and a teacher, I can tell you from both perspectives how wonderful the four-day school week is. My chicks are young still, but I can tell you they have never yet been burned out at the end of the week, or "sick" on Monday morning. The complaint I get from them is on Thursday afternoon when they realize it's going to be three whole days before they GET to go to school. I love that! And I get to pretend I'm a stay-at-home mom on Fridays, which does amazing things for my sanity. We run errands and have doctor appointments, and do chores, sure, but we also do fun little day trips or spend hours playing with craft supplies. That time with my babies is what I need more than anything else. We are crazy busy and life is totally chaotic so much of the time... I don't think I'm exaggerating (much. I'm always exaggerating a little) when I say that those Fridays off keep us from falling apart. 

There are SO MANY more reasons that Flint's four-day week is a brilliant idea. I think that one of my classes did an ANI chart on this, actually...I wonder if I can dig it up? Probably not because I love throwing things away. But hopefully this helps explain the general philosophy behind it, at least. Next question?



2 comments:

  1. Love this. Also, where have you been all my life?! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, I've fallen off the face of the Internet! You totally inspired me with your blog hustle, love!

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