Long Classes

Viola Santana

Mar 3, 2022

Our class periods of an unnecessary one hundred minutes are hurting students mentally, and causing our school days to be dreadfully long.

At Healdsburg High School, students are suffering through one hundred minute classes four days a week. We are asked to focus on one subject, sitting in the same seat, in the same room, throughout that whole amount of time. Not only are the students having a hard time, but the teachers are as well. They are asked to come up with 100 minute lesson plans teaching and interacting with the same students, in the same classroom, doing the same thing, for a whole one hundred minutes. These long periods of time focusing on one subject is draining, stress enhancing, unpleasant, overwhelming, and, overall, completely unnecessary. Our class periods of an unnecessary one hundred minutes are hurting students mentally, and causing our school days to be dreadfully long.
The students’ mental state is supposedly extremely important to our school, teachers, and staff. They are always trying to find ways to make changes to benefit and help individual students emotionally, mentally, and physically. Well, in my opinion, these one hundred minute classes are doing the complete opposite of helping us. It has been posited that kids our age cannot even focus for that long. Even when we try to focus, sometimes we just simply cannot and asking for our undivided attention seems unreasonable given the length of time involved. According to Your Teen Magazine, “The average 16-year-old can focus for between 48-80 minutes. However, it doesn’t mean they’re going to like it. And their ability to focus gets less and less over that time. Apparently, even when we’re trying, over time, our mind wanders.” This statement supports the idea that students do not hate the one hundred minute periods because they hate the class, they hate how the extended time makes them feel by creating unnecessary stress and anxiety, absolutely draining them for the rest of the day. After each one hundred minute class, we only get one thirty minute break, one fifteen minute break, and one ten minute break just to do it all over again.
Not only is it extremely hard for the students, the teachers are suffering too. The amount of time and effort a teacher puts into one class is an incredible amount. Not only do they have to work with the same students for one hundred minutes, they have to create an extremely long lesson plan and teach for one hundred minutes with no break. Due to the extended time of each period, students are more likely to react and give teachers a harder time causing commotion and unnecessary outbursts due to simple frustration. I have talked to some of the teachers at Healdsburg High, and many agree that these classes are way too long with some going so far as to even say that fifty five minute class periods are plenty of time. With fifty five minute class periods, or anything significantly shorter than one hundred, students and teachers are more likely to get way more work done. In this shorter amount of time, student attention spans can grasp this amount of work that focuses on fewer concepts at one time. I have observed many times where students can just flat out not focus, and teachers get as equally frustrated as their students.
Not only are the classes dreadfully long, our school days are. These one hundred minutes classes are causing our school days to be a minimum of six hours long and a maximum of eight, with 300-400 minutes of class time each day. Just writing that out and listening to that sounds absolutely ridiculous. These long days make it so much harder to sit in these extremely long classes, and to have enough energy for the next class. Students and teachers struggle with these long days and not getting to leave campus at any time.
Most everyone at this school plays a sport or does an extracurricular activity after school. We are asked to pay attention and engage in non-stop work for 300-400 minutes, then take care of our other priorities outside of school and finish with two to four hours of homework. After all that, students ' sleep schedules can be disrupted. As a result, we come tired or late to school and teachers and staff wonder why. It's so hard to do all of this as a teenager. School is a priority along with many other things in our lives, so trying to be attentive and on time for six to eight hour days along with two to four hours of homework and try to participate in extracurricular activities is kind of unrealistic for five days a week.
Overall, a simple step in the right direction to make students’ and teachers' lives and mental health better would be to shorten our classes. With the shortening of classes, we would have shorter school days allowing for more mental breaks at the end of the day and a more realistic amount of time to sleep, play sports, be a part of clubs, do our homework, and more. If our mental health, our learning, and our lives outside of school are so important to our school, then they would at least consider this idea. If we think about it, this isn't a huge, unrealistic, or unreasonable ask. As a school community, for the most part we want to enjoy our time here and go home every day with a positive feeling of accomplishment and look forward to the next day rather than dreading it. The schedule makes it extremely difficult for students, and the school community as a whole, to maintain a positive attitude and be consistently productive.