Consider Your Calendar: How Many Teaching Days Does Your School Really Have?

Vol. 15 No. 3

academicleadership eletter Vol16 No3 teachingdays

One role of an academic administrator is to help educators maximize their classroom teaching time. We recommend that every team review the number of actual teaching days allotted in your school year calendar.

Every school’s calendar is different. Some start in August, others in September. Some finish in May, some in June. But, in general, most schools strive for roughly 180 days when the school is open and classes are in session.

However, many educators don’t actually get to teach for all 180 of those days. This can lead to stress as teachers try to squeeze in their lessons and students try to learn and retain the information at hand.

As an example, if your school offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses, then you know the teaching year ends around May 1. This lops off 20–25 days from the school year for those students. Events like field trips, organized tours, community service, and even college tours can add up, totaling 5–10 more lost teaching days per year.

Add assemblies, half days, exams, and other school events that intrude on the school day and you could end up losing another 3–5 teaching days. Finally, account for each day that some students are away from a particular grade, causing disruptions for the remaining students.

Now tally the real number of teaching days in the school year. It’s common for total teaching days with all students present to be well under 150 days. We’ve seen schools with as few as 140 days—and for those AP classes, 105–115 days.

The benchmark ISM suggests is at least 155 teaching days per school year. Keep this number in mind when analyzing your calendar. Make changes if necessary to assure faculty members that they’ll have adequate time to teach their lesson plans and provide guidance to their students.

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 9 No. 10 Student-Centered Scheduling

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
Vol. 32 No. 13 The 21st Century School: Teaching Time
Vol. 36 No. 8 21st Century Teaching: Stability and Challenge

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