Thursday, March 8, 2012

Co-Curricular Period

Our school, has a 30 minute co-curricular activity period four days a week.  At the beginning of the year, teachers write descriptions for the topic they want to teach.  Then students choose the activity they will participate in for that term. The idea is to allow students to be enriched in an area they wouldn't normally have during the school day.  The list of topics range from astronomy to yoga.

Teachers and students and students have mixed feelings about the co-curricular activities.  One advantage of the program is that it give teachers an opportunity to share a topic they are passionate about with students. Students make connections with others who share their interests and see another side of their teachers.

But, there are some disadvantages too. For teachers, it is the extra planning and prep work it takes to teach an extra class every day.  I'm currently teaching a memoir writing class.  I put as much time into planning for this group of students as I do for my other classes. Another concern is that many of the students who end up in the class aren't there by choice. Students are asked to make first, second, and third choices on their sign-up sheets.  If a large number of students sign up for the same activities, some of them will end up in a class they may not want to be in. This can cause unhappy students,  and unhappy students can cause behavior problems for the teacher to deal with.

I'm not sure how this co-curricular period will mesh with the changes the common core curriculum are sure to bring. I like the concept of students having an enrichment period, but how much more can we pack in a day and still be effective teachers?

Does your school have a co-curricular program?  If so, how does your school use the time to benefit students without adding to teacher workload?

1 comment:

  1. We have almost the same thing, & some of the same problems, but we hire teachers & have teachers in the school with different loads so they teach in what we call the matrix. The regular "core" teachers have their planning time during these classes, like Tues. & Thurs. from 9:30 to 12:30. Since our school has a totally individualized program those core teachers have a huge load & need that kind of time & more. I understand the problem & know that it really takes as much time for a class with one subject, & choice is the exact problem. Sometimes a class is very popular & not everyone can be in it. Whew, choice for a passion is great but it takes extra work. We have a full time teacher who manages this plus a publishing center for writing. And-did I tell you this, Linda. I just finished teaching a memoir class. I have posted about it several times, I think in February. If you want more info I'd be glad to send you some things I have used. Good luck with your program.