Welcome to the EduVerse with ProfessorJBA. This series is aimed at parents and caregivers in an effort to inform them about the various roles and aspects of the educational landscape to ensure that caregivers can make informed decisions.
It’s great to be able to create! It’s also beneficial to be able to bring back structures that worked in the past. One such structure that I believe is worthy of bringing back is study hall. I believe it should be brought back into public schools and public charter schools beginning at 4th grade.
Areas like study hall and recess are both needed in our learning spaces for youth development.
I believe all schools should begin implementing study hall under social emotional learning and student activities/engagement. If your school or school district has a culture or school environment department, this should be a priority on their to do list. Parents, reach out to see what your school’s status is when it comes to a structure like the one I describe below.
Study hall is the period of time in a school curriculum set aside for study and the preparation of schoolwork. However, the usage of study hall can be beneficial for students if schools utilized this space for social emotional learning (SEL) and wellness as well.
I believe the concept of study hall doesn’t have to change, but the way it’s implemented does need to be updated. As this work will connect to SEL and restorative practices, I believe parents and families must be engaged from step one in the redevelopment of study hall.
First, a team of stakeholders should come together and determine how study hall is updated. This team should be driven by the needs of students, perspective of parents, and teachers in creating a space of learning outside of the classroom that is peer driven and led.
This is where I ask for parents and teachers to collaborate. What social skills are appropriate for the grade or age of the students, and what’s needed? Parents have to be honest about what behaviors are showing up at home and teachers have to be transparent about what behaviors are showing up in the classroom.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend CASEL as a representative of the National Parents Union. Dr. Aaliyah Sanders, president of CASEL, shared such a powerful testimony around the impact of social emotional learning on our students, families and communities. She highlighted clear and specifics ways of collaboration and partnership with family and community engagement organizations.
“SEL is a gateway to helping us improve the educational outcomes of students!” was one of the main points driven by Dr. Sanders at the fireside chat. I tell teachers, organizers, parent leaders, and family engagement specialists that partnerships with parents shouldn’t be optional; it should be a requirement, the standard.
SEL does not only involve regulating emotions. The CASEL wheel connects five areas to SEL: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness. Study hall time could start with some self-management skills when it comes to studying and practicing skills. Also, the study hall teacher could talk about responsible decision-making when it comes to studying and practicing skills outside of school. If students do not have work to do, other areas could be covered or students who need extra acadmic supports or need to work through conflict resolution through restorative practices can do so during that time.
Study hall, if done based on the foundations of social emotional learning, restorative justice infused with academic recovery strategies, can improve student success, achievement, and growth. Last but not least, students need to learn to take ownership of their learning which is why study hall must move from a passive class to a class where students learn how to gain a better grasp on managing their learning and academic growth.
Improving the support needed for our students begins with how we reimagine education. A good first project is reintroducing study hall in a way that impacts and improves social and emotional wellness, and academic outcomes for all students.