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Four-Day Weeks for Teachers, Anyone?

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Guest Post by Anthony Rebora (@a_rebora)

Here's an interesting twist on school scheduling: An extended-day public school in Queens, N.Y., is experimenting with a four-day week this year—but only for teachers.

Under a pilot program, students at the preK-8 Goldie Maple Academy attend school daily from 8 a.m. to 4:35 p.m., two hours later than they got out last year. But the longer day gives teachers enough hours to take one day a week off, according a NewsNY1 report.

"We realized that we could take the same amount of time that a teacher would work in five days and collapse it down to four," the school's principal, Angela Logan-Smith, said.

A key factor in making the schedule work is that, rather than having the same students throughout each day, teachers at Goldie Maple are responsible for specific subject areas—a practice that is somewhat uncommon (but growing) at the elementary level.   

There's some research out there to suggest that four-day school weeks with extended days can actually boost student achievement—but what the effects are when only teachers get the day off probably is anyone's guess. (Maybe the teachers at least have a better chance of staying on top of their laundry!) Logan-Smith told NewsNY1 that she hasn't been able to find any other school in the country that's using this model.

And interestingly, the switch hasn't been to everyone's taste: According to the report, some teachers have already transferred to other schools, presumably because of the longer days.

But Goldie Maple Academy may be on to something: Over in the U.K., there's now a whole government-funded program designed to lure PhDs into teaching, particularly in math and science, by offering them a four-day week. In this case, however, the educators don't get the fifth day off per se (although we kind of doubt the Goldie Maple teachers really do, either). Instead, according to the U.K. Independent, they are expected to use the extra day to further their own research, attend conferences on teaching, or work with small groups of students.

That sounds like it could be an attractive recruitment/retention idea on this side of the pond, too, where teachers have been found to have considerably less time outside the classroom than their peers in other countries and where teacher-research is gaining interest as a PD approach.    

Last year, the U.K. program, aptly called Researchers in Schools, attracted more than 600 applicants and placed 77 teachers in schools, according to the Independent.  

Image: "Calendar" by flickr user Dafne Cholet, under Creative Commons.


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