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Actual instruction in traditional schools

Posted by on Aug. 20, 2013 at 6:28 PM
  • 15 Replies

I was wondering how much time you all think is actually spent on instruction in public/private schools? I would love to hear from people who were teachers or worked in schools.  

by on Aug. 20, 2013 at 6:28 PM
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by on Aug. 20, 2013 at 6:50 PM
Im not a teacher but saw a youtube video that said at the elementary level its about two and a half hours.
by on Aug. 20, 2013 at 7:22 PM
I worked in a public an integrated prek and kindergarten. It was half days, so each session was 2.5 hours. I would say actual instruction was less than half the time. We had snack and recess for around 35 min, lining up for those things/washing hands could take 20 minutes, that's almost an hour right there. Plus all of the distractions, reminding kids to sit and stop talking...we did math for around 15-20 min, reading instruction was 45 min most days. We would squeeze in writing when we could, PE one a week, guidance once a week, health once a month. Special activities (we didn't leave for field trips, but had people come in maybe every six weeks or so) would take the whole day/session.

I was a substitute teacher before that in prek-4th grades. And I would say actual instruction varied by grade and class, and was obviously less with a sub than with the regular teacher, but it was still probably around half the day. So 3 hours?

That's why I don't think planning 3-4 hrs with my kids is too little, lol.
by on Aug. 20, 2013 at 7:23 PM
I will also add that at the prek/k level, I thing learning happens all the time. So even without teacher instruction, they were learning throughout the 2.5 hours. So I think actual instruction time is much lower than learning time, if that makes sense.
by on Aug. 20, 2013 at 7:24 PM
3 hrs tops on a good day
by Jinx on Aug. 20, 2013 at 8:44 PM
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From when my boys were in PS, I would say no more than 3.5 hours in a 6 hour day,

As PP mentioned, transition times of getting things out and putting them away, recess, and lunch hours, potty breaks and hand washing...otal time wasters!

I remember back when I was in high school, we had 50 minute periods and it was AT LEAST 5 minues in the beginning and 10 minutes at the end of each class for transition time.  NO WAY did we EVER get more than 35 minutes of instruction in a 50 minute period.

Jinx - Homeschooling, Scouting & Karate butt-kicking  Mom to Star Scout Ian 1/98, Scout Sean 9/00, Junior GS Heidi 4/03. Wife to Joe & Alpha to German Shepherd Spazz.

by on Aug. 20, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Yeah, Jinx. I was thinking that in high school it's maybe 30-35 minutes out of every 50 minute hour.

by on Aug. 20, 2013 at 11:53 PM

It depends on the school, the grade level, and the teacher. I attended 6 different schools during my high school years (9-12).

One of the schools had 40min classes and most teacher taught for about 30mins of that time. 

One of the schools had block scheduling. The classes were 90 mins long. 45 mins teaching time and 45 classwork assignment time.

One school had "scheduled teaching" They planned when they would teach and you worked on related projects for a certain of days following that.

Two schools had the students do independent work. There was no teaching done. However, there were smaller classroom sizes and more teachers. The days were shorter than normal and we received frequent breaks.

I went to another school that was extremely different. There were no typical classes so I can not break it down into teaching time... plus there was no "teachers". 

I personally didn't like the traditional school where the teacher talked from the time we sat in our seats till when the bell rang. UGH! Then had homework hours later. 

by Group Admin on Aug. 21, 2013 at 7:31 AM

 I "liked" my local PS's facebook page and got the schedule for my kids' grade levels.  My oldest (8- 3rd grade) had a grand total of 4.7 hours of "in class" time.  Even the best teachers lose about a third of that "in class" time so the total instructional time without taking away the time they are in gym or at the library is around 3.5 hours.  That helped me feel a lot better about doing 4 hours with him. My middle boy's schedule had a similar thing(he's 1st grade) with us doing about a half hour more than they can possible do.

My pre-K was eye opening though.  We've been doing about 35-60 minutes with him of actual seat work.  (Broken up throughout the day-- 15 minutes of Math, 15 minutes of phonics/language arts, and 5-35 minutes of fun science, history, and or geography with his brothers).  Their schedule was insane at that school!!!  They spent the first 2 hours in their classroom!  Then starting at 10:40 they ran them through the school like crazy people!  Half an hour of gym(or music or art or science or geography), half hour of "technology" (they mean readingeggs),half hour lunch, half hour playground, half hour at the library (yes,, and half hour "life instruction time" (I have no idea what that is but they have it in the auditorium), and then a half hour back in the classroom before they go home.  Seemed crazy hectic to me but I would say that would be 2 hours of "in class time" so losing a third would have them at 80 minutes which is way too much IMO.

by Bronze Member on Aug. 21, 2013 at 8:05 AM
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well, I did a rough estimate in my head of how much I felt was actual instruction of content areas I personally taught (language arts, math, science, social studies - not including gym (that includes the heath unit), art, music, library, computers, recess, assemblies, getting into classroom, hanging up jackets and back-packs, taking attendance, getting lined-up for switching rooms, getting ready for dismissal, etc.) from when I taught 5th grade in the public schools. My best average for how much content instruction is 3.5 hours. 4 if you count art, music, gym, and the others.

This was teaching in a affluent district with some of the highest standardized test scores in the state. To be honest, there was no language arts curriculum. In the 5th grade, the teachers and the reading specialists made up the reading and writing curriculum ourselves and it was 75% geared toward preparing for and passing the standardized test (which means we spent from Sept - February practicing past year's tests!) The other 25% was done after the test was completed (March) and was when the actual fun learning was allowed - like reading real books and doing discussion groups and writing something other than an open-response as expected for the test. Our only grammar and vocabulary was a homework book that was entirely self-completed by the kids with no teacher instruction. (grammar and spelling doesn't count on the state tests). Science was 100% geard toward the state test, although at least it was pretty easy content (they don't call them simple machines because it's complicated!!) and most of it was interesting for the kids and we had many hands-on activities. Socials studies was not on the state test, so that did not get much instruction time and was probalby the most fun class for the kids and the teacher could do pretty much whatever she wanted! Math was a dreadful program called EverydayMath - the formula was: teacher presents lesson while kids listen, kids do the practice problems in the workbook. The fast kids who get it and finish right away can do the MathBoxes while teacher helps everyone else. Homework is assigned (usually like 4 problems on the worksheet!) Next day teacher reviews homework as a whole, then moves on to next lesson... repeat, repeat, repeat.

Per week, the kids got 45 minutes of gym, a half hour of art, a half hour of music, a half hour of library, a half hour of computers - which was on ancient computers running ancient software and most of the class was taken up by trying to just get logged-on or restarting after crashes and every single child had a far better, newer, faster computer at home and could do far more on an adequate comupter than anything we had to teach them on the school's computers. And in my opinion, smart boards are just a very expensive way to put big, colorful images up on the screen for the class to see (therefore making it a little more interesting to keep kids seated all day and focusing on one board all day). I'm not convinced they are a better teaching tool than any low-tech, hands-on method. The teaching method was overwhelmingly lecture - me standing in front of a class talking, kids listening. If a kid was smart this was dreadfully boring and slow. If a kid struggled, they sat there lost and got precious little extra help.

can ya tell I'm a little jaded???

by Sonja on Aug. 21, 2013 at 2:35 PM
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I am not a college educated teacher but, I should think that in teaching/educating our kids, it should be about quality not quantity.
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