Teaching: Why I Loathe “Free Days”

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(Image Pinterest)

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(Image Pinterest)

I loathe free days. You would think, a free day for students, to reward them for hard work, good behavior, or to rest their over tested minds- would be a good thing. Perhaps even a helpful thing.

It’s not. At all.

Now I know the adage “All work and no play makes anyone a dull person,” I tend to think dull as in unfocused and unable to think creatively. Breaks are very needed in anyone’s day. However, let me share with you why freedays are horrible, evil things.

They Never go as Planned

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Every time I plan a movie day, a 30 minute lesson on a fun instrument (like drum set), allow students to have computer time as a group- something goes wrong.

  • The DVD won’t play.
  • The Speakers break THAT DAY.
  • The Internet is out and I can’t stream something.
  • A student breaks the item in question.
  • I plan the day and Administration moves tests to that day, reducing the free time. Once that happens I have to move the free day or extend it, because during testing we can’t have band; but I must still “watch” students so the core teacher can have a break. May I mention often, Encore teachers go from testing straight into classes, often with no break.
  • I get ill and go home and students are split up into 3 groups and divided among other Encore teachers. They get no break and when I return and am ready to go… They aren’t.

Students go Insane

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  • The idea of a free day causes the class to go mad. They try to test the boundaries of what they are allowed to do. Free day means, “I can do what I want” day. Only not.
  • School rules disappear, or they think they do.
  •  If the teacher walks 5 ft away from the group, this is a cue to jump up and rush the teacher at least 5 at a time, all with personal stories, being belayed at the same time.
    “Mrs.G this weekend I—”
    “Mrs. F I have to Pee I haven’t gone in hours and Ms.L is so mean and I just don’t know why she never—”
    “I broke my instrument yesterday. I left it in the floor and my brother stepped on it! It’s not my fault, he’s 6 but he shouldn’t be in my room–”
    “Mrs.G this movie is Dumb I want to watch American Horror Story instead.”
  • They become irrational for no reason. “He’s looking at me! Make him stop or I’ll beat the crap out of him. How dare his eyes work!!!”

All the Wrong People Visit

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  • Even though 3 days every semester is not much and is approved by administration, someone from the state, county, or local community chooses to visit.
  • When they visit, and see the lack of educational vigor, it reaffirms that music and band are just for fun.
  • Rumors spread that music is not a serious class and your ability to teach is questioned.
  • Even though other teachers do free days, possibly more frequently than Encore teachers do, Encore is often devalued if even one day is not vigorous.

You Never Give Them Enough

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  • Ever. The always want more. They never have enough time.
  • I am never ever fair enough, find the right things, give them enough of what they want. “Why can’t you buy me a pink frosted saxophone? I want a free instrument, it’s your job to give me what I wannnnnt!”

There is no Time to Complete Teacher Tasks

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  • Put in a movie- start sorting assignments and suddenly they must play the punch game, chase, get in fights; all in the amount of time it takes to walk to your seat. “I think he might have hit me. Maybe. So he must die.”
  • Doing work in front of the children signals the need in their minds to know their grade, right now. Immediately. No matter that you are nowhere near the grade book. You should know it, instantly. Never mind you teach 130 different kids. “But like is it a 93 kind of A or a 95 kind of A? I know that doesn’t show up on the report cards but, I NEED to know!”

However….

It’s okay. They need a break. It’s true I work harder than ever on free days but, having a fun goal to work towards is rewarding. They also, in a roundabout kind of way love you more when they see you go a little nuts.
*Giggles* “Mrs.G, you are so silly.”
“Yes my little jiggly puffs, I am.”
*laughs* “No, you are a jiggly puff!”
“Indeed, get your instrument out!”
*chants puff puff puff jiggly as they return to their seat*

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But if someone asks me if they can watch Frozen again this week, I may have to change my response:

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“Can we watch Frozen?”
“No.”
“But we need too.”
“No.”
“But you promised!!”
*teacher dies from seeing the move 7 separate times*

(I’m kidding completely, my kids have a similar sense of humor. Honest, I’d never hurt any of them!)

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5 thoughts on “Teaching: Why I Loathe “Free Days”

  1. (*cackles at the end of this*) Yup, this is how free days went in my band class in 9th grade. EXACTLY LIKE THIS.

    But like you, our teacher was cool and was able to handle it, though I think he missed the band from the year before. They were a lot more serious about their music and it showed even on free days.

    Like

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