Student, teacher input needed for study hall

To make up for a lack of instructional minutes, reduce vandalism at Town and Country and ensure the well-being of students, administrators have implemented a study hall period on Fridays for students who don’t have Advisory for the week. 

Instead of having an extended lunch, the grades who do not have Advisory are assigned to a classroom with two teachers, adjacent to their Advisory. Attendance for study hall is mandatory.

While The Campanile understands study hall is necessary to meet the state’s instructional minute requirements and make it less likely that students skip seventh period, we urge administrators to give students more choice in how they spend this time. 

We also urge administrators to provide teachers with clearer expectations and more advance notice for these kinds of decisions.

While some teachers allow students to play games and engage in collaborative group work during study hall, others enforce silent, independent study. 

This lack of consistency across classes creates uncertainty for students and can disrupt the completion of assignments that require collaboration. 

To combat these discrepancies, administrators should give teachers the flexibility to allow students to collaborate and interact during study hall, thus helping students learn from each other and strengthen their teamwork, leadership and problem-solving skills.

In addition, since students are likely not assigned to one of their classroom teachers for study hall, they can’t receive the support they may need to understand class material and complete group assignments with students who are likely not in their study hall. 

Allowing students to choose which teacher they would like to go to during study hall would allow them to take charge of their learning and seek the educational support they need.

Moreover, giving students the flexibility to move between classes during study hall, similar to Tutorial which was in effect during the 2019-2020 school year, would help students get help in more than one class. 

Though allowing students to move between classrooms may pose liability risks, procedures such as increased communication between teachers and attendance checks at each classroom students go to would reduce these concerns.

Both Assistant Principal Erik Olah and Executive Board President of the Palo Alto Educators Association Teri Baldwin told The Campanile the implementation of study hall falls within teachers’ contractual agreements.

Yet, many teachers said they are not satisfied with how study hall was implemented because of the lack of notice from administrators. 

Most teachers found out about study hall during a meeting on their first day of school, preventing those assigned to supervise study hall the opportunity to sufficiently plan for this reduction to their prep time.

While The Campanile understands the reason for implementing study hall, we think administrators should expand the benefits students receive from this mandatory scheduled time by giving them more control over what they can do and which teachers they can see. 

The Campanile also encourages administrators to be more conscious of when and how they implement decisions that directly affect students and teachers and give both groups more time to process and adjust to such changes.