Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, students started the school year with a hybrid schedule, in which students attend school two days a week, have two at home remote days and were required to meet with each of their classes in a shortened 32-minute synchronous online learning time. Many students, parents and teachers had mixed feelings about the use of Flex Fridays and were frustrated that it wasn’t consistent, leaving little time for actual learning time. Instead, this took time away from students to complete previously assigned work.
While the original intent of Flex Fridays was for the cohorts to join together to review content learned that week in class, some teachers used that time to teach new material. This left their students with additional assignments to complete than they already had.
The Ranger Review staffers produced an anonymous survey so students, teachers and even parents could give their opinions about the Flex Friday schedule. Over 400 parents/guardians, teachers, and students responded to the survey. Students have admitted that, while the Flex Friday schedule idea was good, the execution didn’t work.
“A lecture, over Google Meet, is not very effective. There are a million resources out there that could relay information far better,” one student said.
Common complaints included Wi-Fi issues, camera and microphones not working, trouble finding the Google Meet links, codes not working and teachers having issues with technology. Students also complained about multiple people in the house using Google Meets simultaneously, which caused dropped virtual meetings.
“My computer crashed completely from a site we had to use for a class, erased everything, and I had to go buy a new one ASAP because Best Buy couldn’t even fix it,” another student said.
Over half of participants said that Flex Friday was a waste of time and that meeting with both cohorts was not important to them. Eleven participants said it was a great experience. Nearly half of respondents said the best way Flex Friday could be used for them would be working independently at home. The survey showed that 38.2% would prefer having the chance to make one-on-one appointments with teachers if necessary, and a small margin, only 9.2%, preferred to follow the current Flex Friday outline.
Teachers have different opinions about Flex Fridays. Some teachers, despite having extra time with students, are also not fans of Flex Fridays because they feel that meeting with an entire class virtually doesn’t allow for one-on-one confidentiality with students. However, other teachers perceive them more optimistically.
“I like that they aren’t a normal school day. It gives teachers/students an opportunity to review material and ask questions without the expectation of more schoolwork,” one teacher said. “It’s also a good opportunity for the entire class to socialize and interact.”
Students perceived that Flex Fridays were review days, but many experienced additional assignments to their already stressful workload along with only a 30-minute meeting time, which didn’t allow time to learn new material.
“I wished Flex Days were more for just questions rather than either not doing anything or learning more content,” Rachel O’Connell 10 said. “I really miss having Friday to do my work, because I have three online classes.”
Social studies teacher Mark Swanson likes the idea of having an extra half an hour to work with students because 90 minutes in class once a week is only a bare minimum. But, he also understands the stress level that is impacting students.
“The thing I keep coming back to over and over and over again is that we’re facing times so extraordinary,” Swanson said. “We just have to be patient with each other and do the best with what we have.”
After five weeks, the use of Flex Fridays has changed again. Friday mornings will now be reserved for teacher work time and PLC meetings, and students are required to complete a check-in task for the day, while still marking their own attendance. Afternoons are reserved for mandatory targeted interventions with some teachers requiring students to attend in-person learning on Fridays. Students may still reserve time for virtual one-on-one appointments with their teachers.