What Do Students Want from an Expanded School Day or Year?

You might expect the answer to include longer recess, time with friends, and more time for “fun”; however, we have found that many students are most interested in expanding educational opportunities. During the past year, students at the Science and Technology Magnet High School in New London, CT, developed a video to document students’ opinions throughout the district on what their schools could do with more time.  The ideas expressed by the students—ranging from STEM offerings to art classes to differentiated classes—align closely with the plans submitted by TIME Collaborative schools across the network for implementation next year. 
One eighth-grader asked that she and her peers be able to “get the education [they] need at [their] level,” a request that will be met with the targeted intervention and acceleration classes that will be in place at her school next year.   A sixth-grader expressed hope that at the end of the expanded school day, “[she] won’t be left with questions” and can get more help from her teacher.  
Students made many suggestions for enrichment programming that would align with the core curriculum, including “a math class after-school so I could learn times and division,” that one third-grader recommended. Other students hoped to see expanded offerings in the sciences, including partnerships with the local aquarium and Coast Guard Academy, classes in engineering, and chemistry labs. Many students were also interested in additional arts offerings, such as painting, creating murals, and sketching. 
Students hoped that an expanded school day would allow them to “deepen [their] understanding and ask more questions,” as one seventh-grader stated. At NCTL we are so pleased that the schools in our first cohort have incorporated so much of what these students are hoping for into their new school day. The TIME Collaborative schools are showing that a school day can be much, much more for students and teachers than it is today.