Before the break, I was skeptical that the new winter break schedule was a good idea. Now, I’m positive that the calendar is waging war on us students. It isn’t the school’s fault, exactly – had the break started a week earlier, students would be returning on January 1. If only we had the power to stop the Earth’s journey around the sun for half a week, the calendar wouldn’t have screwed Riverside up so badly.
Upon returning from the break, students have found themselves inundated with work. Teachers are just as bewildered, trying to place their last units and final projects in these two weeks. It hasn’t helped that there was conflicting information flying around, with some people under the impression that the semester was ending on January 24. It’s seems to me over these last few days that everyone’s running around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to desperately salvage a situation they have no control over, yet should have known about in advance.
The unchanging nature of the calendar that caused this is also our possible salvation – we could see that the winter break would have to work out like this literally centuries in advance, so why is everybody frantically rushing to haphazardly cram their plans into these two weeks? Students and teachers should have been informed about this situation in their RAPs, repeatedly for two or three weeks before the break. The earlier the better, so teachers can make clear to their students that they need to get some work done on their projects before or during the break.
Unfortunately, even knowing about this, there’s not many teachers who could have done something to mitigate the damage. Splitting a unit up, with half before the break and half afterwards, is a recipe for disaster if you care about student engagement. “But you could have done homework on the break!” whine people who have no conception of student life. Most people – students and teachers alike – aren’t realistically going to spend their holidays working, during a time meant for family and celebration. Teachers know this, which is why whole units were after the break.
This whole conflagration of confusion is, to the disappointment of everyone involved, entirely necessary unless we increase or decrease the length of winter break by half a week. Looking at the calendar, it looks like this will happen again next year. So, let’s take these valuable lessons and work towards January 2019 not being a case study in breakdowns of communication.