WHS student: ‘7-period day worked for me’

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Citizen-Letters-2

I recently read Mrs. Key’s letter concerning the seven-period school day (“Where is data to support seven-period school day?” from Nov. 6, 2018) and felt inspired to address some of those questions and concerns from the perspective of a recent graduate of Whitewater High School.

Throughout my high school career, we had seven-period school days, with options to opt out of a period for upperclassmen with certain grades, dual enrollment, or work-based learning.

Personally, I found this schedule quite natural, as it was essentially the same schedule I experienced in middle school. As a result, I cannot offer any comparison of the quality of a seven-period school day to that of a six-period school day of the same length.

I personally do not feel that a 10-minute difference would have made a change in the quality of my classes. Of course, I cannot speak for my classmates, nor can I make a judgment on the difficulty of planning a class for 50-minute class periods.

To address the questions and considerations specifically:

There were generally opportunities for extra supervision and help at the end of class, and I don’t believe that an extra 10 minutes would have made much of a difference. In many cases, as students, we tend to allow the time spent on an activity to expand to fill the time we have available.

Shorter classes may expand the amount of homework slightly, but this is mostly in courses heavily reliant on memorization of large quantities of information, such as history.

Stress is far more dependent on the quality of the class than the time allotted for one. In my high school health class, I learned that there were two kinds of stress, those being eustress (the good kind) and distress (the bad kind).

During one fully loaded year, I had several intense classes, but my teachers gave me clear objectives. It was stressful, but it was productive and I felt confident in my education.

On the other hand, there was a time during which I had six class periods, but had some instruction without clear objectives. Without clear instruction, I felt distress, as I had no idea what I was expected to learn, and when to learn it.

The quality of a class is much more important than the amount of time it takes to complete one, and is a much larger factor in the stress of school.

I do agree that if a student is better suited by a six-period school day, they should be given the opportunity for such, and I believe that this is compatible with the structure of a seven-period school day.

It is true, sometimes labs would take longer than a 50-minute class period. But there were certainly labs that would take longer than a 60-minute class period as well. These scenarios would be handled the same way, and I was never significantly hindered by the time constraint, despite being incredibly slow in my progress through AP Chem labs. The 50-minute class period did not hinder my education in AP classes.

The fear of “filler” classes is valid, and I know that this issue definitely exists, but is not limited to electives, as this attitude occurs in required classes as well. I think this is a problem that could be alleviated by more autonomy in class selection.

The seven-period school day allowed me to take more AP classes than I would have taken otherwise, considering AP class grade-level prerequisites and other required classes. I only wish I had started taking more of them sooner.

The expanded schedule also allowed me to stay in band, and by extension marching band, without sacrificing my academics. This gave me the opportunity to develop academically and as an individual.

I agree that opting out should be an option that allows all high schoolers the best educational experience for them. I feel that the general trend would be students completing required courses early on to provide more free hours later when they can drive and are eligible for more opportunities.

Why do students need 26-28 credits? That’s a good question. What even defines what counts as a “credit”?

The seven-period school day isn’t the ideal option for everyone, and quality most certainly is more important than quantity. But I don’t think an ideal option for everyone truly exists.

There are plenty of successful models of education, but I’m sure there’s a flaw with all of them. But it is definitely important to review what we have, and I think the most effective way to do this is not surveys, but more opportunities for conversation between administrators and students.

Sean Fish
Whitewater High School Class of 2018
Fayetteville, Ga.