Apr 01, 2018
We all know that Thursday evening feeling; just one more day until the weekend finally arrives. But what if for students and teachers Thursday evening marked the end of their workweek? And what would it mean for tutors - if anything?
While the four-day school week isn’t the norm, discussion surrounding its effects have recently picked up due to changes in standardized testing, increase use of online education, and the war on teachers’ wages.
In order to make up for lost time and meet minimum hourly requirements, schools implementing the schedule must either increase the number of days per year or lengthen the school day (typically by 40 minutes to an hour), with the majority choosing the latter. While there isn’t much research regarding the true effects of the short week, there are some definite advantages and disadvantages.
Why Didn’t We Do This Years Ago?
The main reason districts tend to adopt the four-day schedule is to increase monetary savings. One less day of classes equates to one less day of transportation, cafeteria food, overhead costs, and administrative needs. Interestingly, many schools don’t see the cost savings they expect, yet continue with the schedule due to some unexpected benefits.
Above all else, teachers have reported benefitting from the short week. While many schools across the nation have been subject to teacher shortages, those that have instituted the short week have seen an influx of teacher applications. Current teachers are also fans of longer days and shorter weeks – an increase of energy throughout the week, having time for more engaging lesson plans, and using the extra day to look over the curriculum rather than working through the weekend have all been praises sung by teachers.
Many students reap the rewards of the short week as well. Some schools have recorded slightly higher attendance records and lower disciplinary problems since its implementation, and teachers have noticed that students have more energy throughout the week as well, avoiding the “Friday slump”. While some worry that a three-day weekend is too long away from school, students can still remain engaged during the time off.
Not Everyone Wins
While there are definite advantages to the four-day week, not everyone benefits equally from the schedule. Though some schools experience cost savings, a penny saved is a penny taken out of someone else’s pocket. Bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and administrative staff have seen cuts to their salaries and benefits, some by up to 15%, and parents who work full time jobs must account for child care on the day off. Though some schools or churches offer programs on these days, it can come at a price. One Oklahoma school charges $30 per day per child for childcare.
At risk students also see fewer benefits from the new schedule. Some students rely on free or discounted meals at school, and the extra day off can mean a longer weekend without a full meal. Additionally, some worry that those without supervision on the day off are given more opportunity to get into trouble.
So What Does It All Mean for Tutors?
Schools following the four-day week schedule can provide great opportunities for tutors all around from student, parent, and network perspectives. Students will likely have more energy on their free day, meaning they will be more engaged and better prepared for tutoring sessions. Students will also have access to more in-depth lesson plans while in school, giving tutors more material to work off of during sessions. Parents may be inclined to schedule sessions on these days in order to cover time they’re at work, which might be cause to consider raising your rates. Finally, those in your student’s network of influence might also have more time to effectively communicate with you, giving you a clearer understanding of how to be a better tutor for your student.
Ultimately, districts need to weigh the pros and cons before making the drastic change. Input from the community is important, and every question or concern should be considered.