Back in the day, I attended a year-round school due to overcrowding in the Clark County School District. Look at how many kids were in my 5th grade class.
There were over 40 kids in my class, but never all at the same time. Every few weeks, about ten of us would go on track break (there were 5 tracks). This happened throughout the year, August through August, thus the year-round school concept.
So while my track was gone, my classmates were still learning. When my track returned it was a tricky mess of catching us up while continuing with the education of the students who had not been on track break. And don’t forget, about ten other students left for track break when my track returned. It sounds like a confusing mess because that is exactly what it was.
Looking back, I often wonder how my education would have been different if I hadn’t been a part of this program. I know that there were major holes in my learning because it was an impossible situation for teachers to teach. I know that most of my teachers worked hard and did inspiring lessons with us. I’m pretty sure they were also overwhelmed and constantly trying to figure out how to make the crazy schedule work.
I remember having a lot of substitute teachers as well. I don’t know how many days my teachers were required to work and take off, but I have faint memories of my teachers taking significant chunks of time off. I think that was hard on them and us.
It was not a good situation. Now, we are bringing back year-round schools again (it comes and goes). Luckily, it works differently now. Regular classroom teachers are assigned one track. If a teacher is assigned track 4, all of the students are in track 4, which means the teacher and students take their time off on the same schedule. It’s much better this way, but it still creates strain at school.
For example, the music, art, library, p.e. and humanities teachers have to juggle lessons and try to keep track of which tracks have completed projects, which ones haven’t, etc. Their job is already immense, working with all of the kids at the school. So this makes it way more stressful. It’s also hard to plan art nights and music concerts and carnivals because there will always be a track that is missing. As a teacher, you care about what you are presenting to students and their families. You don’t want kids missing out because of the school schedule.
Even though I swore I would never work in a year-round situation like I experienced when I was a student, that is exactly what I’m doing now. I teach at two schools. One school is year-round and the other one is not. At my year-round school, I teach six classes. Each class has interesting combinations of students in tracks 1-5. In some classes I have all of the kids on my roster during certain times of the year. In other classes there is always someone on track break. It has made it rough to complete complicated projects with students. I’m trying to figure out how to isolate lessons/projects so that they fit into the small chunks of time I have kids before the next switch, and the next switch, and the next switch. It will be interesting to see what I come up with this year to cope with this situation. I wish I had a crystal ball to see how far into the future we will need to be on a year-round schedule. I wish we had enough schools built so that we could go back to all schools being on the nine month schedule.