Saturday, November 05, 2005

What time do you start?

Over at my pre-college English class' blog In Need of Coffee, a few students reacted to an article from the Boston Globe's education section. The article deals with the issue of high school start times. In Need of Coffe, as you might be able to tell is a title based on the regular use of caffeine by students and myself. And, as is demonstrated by the url,, you can guess what time we start at.

I support a later start for high school students. I know that there is a strong possibility that the alertness of my students in that first period class may not change. Certainly students may simply stay up later in response to a later start time. However, I think that even an hour later start might reduce the number of absences for first period, as well as alleviate the contagious yawning and drooping heads.

So, what time do you start school? If you start before 8:00, would you prefer a start time after 8:00?


At 5:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We start at 7:55. I don't want to push it any earlier or make it later. I think that if we made it earlier, I'd find it difficult to get there on time. We're a private school and have people coming from all over the metro area. However, we also have a long school day, mainly due to a long lunch and morning program/prayers in the morning. We don't get out until 3:45. I don't want to push that later. I worked at a middle school that didn't get out until 4:30 and I hated it.

At 7:08 PM , Blogger The Science Goddess said...

I understand the brain-based reasoning behind later hs start times, however out in the world, few people get a choice about their start times for work, regardless of what's best for their brains. We need to learn to be functional on all kinds of schedules.

Meanwhile, just as people have "light" and "deep" sleep periods, there are varying periods of alertness, too. Perhaps the answer isn't a later start time, but a rotating schedule such that 1st period isn't always 1st thing in the morning.

(By the way, we start at 7:45.)

At 7:35 PM , Blogger graycie said...

I taught in a middle school for fifteen years -- They let the kids in at 7:25. It was physically and mentally painful for me to be ready for anything so early. It never got better. I got used to kids who were barely conscious that early.

It's one of several reasons I moved up to the high school four years ago. Now the first class starts at 8:20. Better for me. better for them.

But. The kids still aren't ready for nearly another hour. Their wiring has shifted -- later is better, earlier is worse. If we're supposed to teach them, why can't we do it when their brains are awake? (For Science Godess: I could be wrong, but their brains shift back when they are grown, don't they?)

At 8:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We start at 8am. We go until 4:30pm Monday through Thursday and Noon on Fridays (with a 12-1 plan for teachers.) By second hour, at 9am, I think everybody's rolling and ready to go. Our students aren't adults -- they need different amounts of sleep than we do. I think a later start time is beneficial.
On a tangent, since a good chunk of teenage drug use and sexual activity occurs in the after school hours between when kids get out of school and when parents get home, a later start time might have other benefits, too.

At 7:38 PM , Blogger The Science Goddess said...

There is a hormonal "shift" on down the road---but even adults have various rhythms to their alertness during the day. It's just the nature of being alive. :)

At 8:17 PM , Blogger Waterfall said...

Our classes start at 8:10 and end at 3:00. My last two classes of the day are, respectively, hyperactive (sugar high from lunch) and half-asleep (afternoon doldrums?). I wish school started earlier, myself. But then again, I'm a morning person whose brain tends to take a nap around 2:00 in the afternoon.

At 2:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in France, all middle and high schools pretty much start at the same time : 8:00 AM. We do have pretty long days since our last period is from 4 to 5 pm. Some high schools even have class until 6 pm.
The 8 am start time is fine with me. Many of my students are bused from far away and leave home around 6:30 or 7 am so they are wide awake even during our fis=rst period.

At 12:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our high school started a mini-block day, well, actually 2 of them. Bottomline; students get a late arrival of 9:20 on Wednesday. While they are still comparing data, it seems to have resulted in less absences.

Teachers still work the same hours, but on Wednesday they do staff development or team training.

I don't have first hand experience, since I'm doing special education assessments, but the teachers that I support seem to enjoy it.


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