Middle school is a unique and exciting time in many students’ lives but often the hustle and bustle of moving from class to class is overwhelming.
This is especially true for struggling students. With so many different classes during the day, it can be difficult for teachers to give each student the amount of time and attention that is necessary to help them achieve success. The ability to provide extra help, make personal connections, or provide extension activities, can seem close to impossible.
But there is hope! In this article, we will look at and discuss some of the different ways schools can use flex time to help provide intervention periods for middle school students. Although meant for good, these two words often get a bad rap. We will spend some time addressing alternate names for intervention as well as why it can be a beneficial addition to middle school schedules.
Why Add Intervention Time to a Middle School Schedule?
Students are often told what academic areas they are weak in, but how often are they given the help and resources to overcome them?
Unfortunately, tight schedules hinder a teacher’s ability to give each student the individual attention that is so often needed. This is where intervention periods, or flex time, comes in.
Flex time is added into the daily, weekly, or monthly school schedule. It will be up to the individual school to decide what works best for its teachers and students, but here are a few ideas. A typical school day usually consists of 8 or 9 periods a day that are approximately 40 to 45 minutes in length.
A Middle School Schedule Example
Here is an example of how a middle school in East Texas has set up their day to be able to provide not one but two flex time periods to better help students.
Period 1 – 7:45 – 8:35
Period 2 – 8:38 – 9:23
Period 3 – 9:26 – 10:11
Period 4 – 10:14 – 10:59
Period 5 – 11:02 – 11:47
11:50 – 12:20 A Lunch/First Power Hour
12:21 – 12:51 B Lunch/Second Power Hour
Period 6 – 12:54 – 1:39
Period 7 – 1:42 – 2:27
Period 8/STAAR Prep 2:30 – 3:15
In this schedule, Power Hour is a designated time based on benchmark scores, previous state testing, and overall class grades, where students go to different subjects throughout the week for reinforcement.
This time allows students to ask questions about material they might not have understood during class time. It also gives the teacher the opportunity to work individually with students or in small groups.
Although class periods may seem shorter, this is may be beneficial for middle school age students who often have shorter attention spans.
There are many different Flex schedules that schools can choose from depending on their needs. In this model, taking just 5 to 10 minutes from each class period allowed this school to create a daily schedule that incorporates two flex periods without taking minutes away from lunch. It may appear that using this model causes students to lose valuable class time, but in reality, those minutes are “recouped” during flex time. Students can get the help they need during an added 30 minutes or more of class time a day rather than an additional five minutes of regular instructional time.
Why Give Intervention Periods a Name?
By calling these periods, Power Hour, STAAR Prep, or even Accelerated Instruction, students can feel empowered rather than defeated. They could be simply called Intervention Periods, but there are reasons to give these periods a different name. When students feel or are made to feel less than, they will begin to behave in that manner regarding their grades. They tend to take on the “I cannot do it, so why even try attitude.” But, creating schedules that utilize Flex Time helps to prevent this downward spiral from occurring.
Why Build Intervention Into the Daily Middle School Schedule?
Let’s face it, most students will not or cannot always come early for before school tutorials or stay after school. And, teachers need this time to prepare for the day or the next day. Struggling students already feel overwhelmed by the long school day.
The benefit to having Power Hour and STAAR Prep built into the daily schedule, is that it allows teachers to focus on areas of weakness without the stigma of singling out students. At this age, most middle school students would rather fail than have their peers think they need extra help. Since all students attend Power Hour and STAAR Prep, all students gain from the extra support and enrichment.
This schedule has proven to be especially effective for students who struggle with writing and math concepts. Students who are reluctant to ask questions during regular class time, suddenly feel free to get the help that is needed.
The Power Hour and STAAR Prep periods are not just beneficial for students who are struggling. High achieving students can use this time to complete homework, study for tests, or work on projects. It also allows them time to get clarification on assignments that they might not have understood or missed for some reason.
Giving students and teachers extra time in the day to focus on areas of importance make the 35 – minute class time worthwhile. Flex Time was created out of necessity for the students. Teachers and administrators wanted to find a way to help all students to the best of their ability and needed to find a way to do it during the school day. This makes it accessible for students to get the support they need.
Creating Multiple Intervention Opportunities
One of the best features is that it can be set up for students to attend different intervention periods, or Power Hours, throughout the week depending on their needs. For example, Student A might attend Math Power Hour on Monday and Tuesday, and Language Arts on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday could be determined based on the subject with the most need.
The other subject area teachers hold Power Hour and STAAR Prep classes as well. This is where the non -struggling students are placed and the classes are used primarily as a study hall. These could be used as opportunities for extension as well.
The assurance of knowing that they will be attending one to two classes during the day where they can receive extra help, gives students the confidence to believe that with hard work, they can overcome current challenges.
Using Flex Time to Teach Students Life Skills
Flexible intervention periods are also a valuable tool to help teach students that it is ok to ask for help. When students see their peers asking for help, it gives them the confidence to do the same. And teachers can focus on the specific areas that the students are requesting help with. This is a win-win for both students and teachers.
Learning to be flexible is part of life, and flexible intervention periods can be a positive tool for both students and teachers. Learning how to use their time, and learning how to ask for help, are life skills that can benefit students into adulthood.