One City Schools educators switching to 4-day week; but not students

Madison’s One City Schools plans to try something different this fall to keep its educators fresh for the coming school year.
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Madison’s One City Schools plans to try something different this fall to keep its educators fresh for the coming school year. On Friday, the organization revealed a switch to a four-day work week for its teachers, assistant teachers, and student support personnel.

Students will keep the same Monday-Friday routine. Teachers will rotate alternative days off from one another, so that there are always teachers in the building.

Head of One City Schools Devon Davis said it’s difficult to hire and retain teachers, but she understands it’s an exhausting profession.

”A lot of teachers are leaving the profession and they’re looking for more flexible opportunities and it’s been a lot I think… In terms of the demands of a teacher on the day to day,” Davis said. ”Teaching is hard work. It’s exhausting. You put your entire self into your classroom of scholars every single day.”

In a statement highlighting the schedule changes, One City Schools explained the shorter workweeks are designed to give them a leg up when hiring new instructors and to keep their current staff from moving on. Head of Schools Devon Davis pointed to a February survey by the National Education Association that found more than half of educators were considering giving up teaching for good.

“Educators are tired. We have to think outside the box and respond to the struggles they are facing, or we will not have enough high-quality educators to teach our kids,” she continued, while describing schools and students as being “in a state of emergency right now.”

One City Schools administrators also hope more time off will provide their staff with a better work-life balance, so they can remain energized for the task of helping students overcome any educational losses suffered during the pandemic.

“Considering how much mental and physical energy educators have to expend to help our children catch up and move forward, and to give them one additional day to breathe and take care of themselves and their families, a four-day work week made a lot of sense,” she said.

The four-day week is already slated to go into effect for the public charter elementary school and the charter high school. Third grade teachers piloted this program over one month ago. A pilot program will be set up over the summer to see if it will also work in an early childhood setting.

Third grade teacher Lyndsey Standage said it has helped prevent her from burning out.

“I don’t feel like it has been difficult to adjust to because it feels like this is part of the week and then this is the other part of the week. So I just had to switch my mindset about it,” Standage said. ” I have a break in the middle of the week and then I can refocus and comeback and it’s nice to actually take that break during the week and get caught up.”

In the U.K., a recently launched pilot program will test the effects of a four-day work week across a variety of sectors. It will last for six months and involves 3,300 workers across 70 companies, ranging from financial services to restaurants.

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