This year my school implemented a new academic support time called AT. AT stands for many things…Academic Time, Advising Time, Acceleration Time…but for many students it is a glorified study hall. We implemented it because we felt in the past teachers had so many meetings after school that if a student missed class, or needed extra help, that it was nearly impossible to schedule a common time for students to meet with teachers. We had a program in place called teacher advisory, which was 2 days a week and provided mentoring and a common teacher for students to get to know for 4 years. However, this time was rarely used well, and often resulted in kids chilling for 15 minutes.
Here is how AT works now:
1. We have a computer program designed for scheduling.
2. On Mondays, students go to homebase, which is sorted by grade, with academic advisers. Here students meet individually with the teacher to decide what they need to work on that week, and schedule where they intend to go on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Teachers send an email to students with their schedule for the week. AT is 30 minutes long.
3. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday students go to the location for which they are scheduled. Each teacher has approximately 15 students who are working on various things. In the math classroom, this frequently means students are retesting concepts, working on math homework, or getting caught up on material they need help with. The math AT is always busy. It is a lot to manage from a teacher’s perspective because the students are all doing different things.
4. Friday there is no AT. Classes are all 9 minutes longer.
Teachers have the opportunity to pre-book students any time before the Monday AT, so if the teacher knows a student is going to need extra support, or needs to make up a test, the teacher can prebook the students.
My Thoughts: I like the idea of AT, but I find the execution to be challenging. I think this is complicated by the fact that I don’t have my own classroom. There are two teachers trying to hold AT in one room. We’ve reduced our numbers so we are both maxed out at 12, instead of the usual 15, but it is still too tight in the space. Because my number is lower every day, that means there are 9 spaces that are unavailable for me, and students find it very hard to book me. This means I end up doing a lot of prebooking, so some weeks I have no spaces left before the Monday booking time even begins.
I’d like to use AT for more acceleration, or to meet with groups of students, but if I book students ahead of time, it leaves even fewer spaces open for kids who need help. On the plus side, I definitely think AT has reduced the number of students who come in for help after school, and it has definitely reduced the end of the quarter retesting rush. It is helping students to retest concepts as we go, which I think is having a positive impact on learning.
As a final note, the 30 minutes that we lose from the school day that go into AT are missed in my classes. It’s only 9 minutes a day 4 days in 2 weeks. So that’s 36 minutes every two weeks, with approximately 32 school weeks, that turns into about 8.6 hours over the course of the year, which is a lot.
I’m open to thoughts and questions as my feelings are mixed…