An LYS reader asks:

“Sean, my high school has this plan not to teach the regular curriculum for the first week. We’re supposed to teach school rules, study skills and college enrollment information instead. What do you think?”

SC Response:
I understand that questions like this are loaded with nuance and contextual issues and obviously, I do not have all the facts, but here goes…

In general, I do not like the idea. High schools that do this are often trying to cover up the fact that they did a sub-par job of scheduling and are leveling classes for a week. Realizing that most teachers don’t want to start teaching until the class roster is settled, someone decides to create fluff and busy work to fill the time.

Now this begs all sorts of questions and observations, here are just two.

First, when every teacher I work with tells me that there are not enough days to cover everything in the curriculum, why would a school purposefully take a week of instruction from those teachers?

Second, I work with very large urban high schools that have all students scheduled and classes leveled by the second day of school. If that is not occurring on your campus, who is dropping the ball?

That being said, the idea of pre-teaching school and classroom rules is valid and one that I strongly recommend. However, it takes less than one class period to do it properly. The idea of teaching study skills is valid and one that I recommend. However, it should be embedded in the content of every class and reviewed on an as-needed basis. The idea of discussing college early and often is an idea that is valid and that I recommend. However, this too should be embedded in every class, throughout the year.

In summary, without knowing any facts other than your question, it sounds like your campus is covering up significant system failures with camouflaged busy work. I would recommend that the campus spend the first day of school on the busy work (first period – school rules; second period – class rules; third period – graduation requirements; fourth period – task management; fifth period – college enrollment; etc.) and start teaching the curriculum at full speed on Day 2.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…