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By Don J. Fessenden
How could such a great idea go so wrong? The inefficiency seen in most study halls has caused teachers to search for answers. In searching for solutions to the challenges of study hall, we need to first question the reason why there are so many study halls. The simple answer is money and a lack of course offerings. While most students assigned to study halls see it as a break in their school day, others see it as a chance to ketchup on school-work and yet others see it as a place to just hang-out.
However, the perspective of most teachers is that study halls are just an additional duty with little instructional benefit or return on investment! We teach because we love sharing our knowledge of the subjects we love with our students but when leading a study hall we try to do the best job we can at managing students who usually don’t know us as teachers or even worse don't feel accountable to us their teachers. How do teachers ensure students utilize study hall time more wisely? The short answer is we don’t…the long answer is that schools need to offer more courses and reduce the number of study halls or create one mass group study hall. This could be done in the school’s cafeteria. Unfortunately, this solution is not easy and comes with its own problems because you would not be able to schedule study halls before, during, or after lunch. The lack of feasible solutions to changing study halls, brings us to one conclusion...study halls should be history.
Of course schools may never be able to totally eliminate study halls from their schedules they should be used as a last resort and whenever possible offered during the first or last time-block. Also, they should be held in the school’s cafeteria and managed by paraprofessionals. It does not require a teaching certification to manage a study hall. With this new found time teachers would be able to do more peer observations, collaborate with colleagues or even provide tutoring to students needing extra subject-matter help. All of these suggestions would provide the schools stakeholders with a real return on investment.
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