Okay, so here's the preface/disclaimer/whatever: I like Big Foot High School. I really like it. In fact, I was offered a job elsewhere last year and declined because I like Big Foot. It's a good place to work. I like most of my students and most of my colleagues. I really, really like Big Foot High School.
That having been said, it's not flawless. And I'm not just talking about the kids that smell funny or the fact that none of my copies of Of Mice and Men have covers. Now, I don't really have much power around these parts, but if I did--were I omnipotent--here are some of the things I'd do:
1. Eliminate the requirement that teachers include comments on every student's mid-term report card. This is ludicrous for a few reasons. First of all, the grades and the diploma endorsement marks (scores of 1, 2, 3, or 4 for things like attitude, effort, etc.) already serve this function. If I see that my kid has a BC with 1's for attitude and group work, and 2's for effort and quality of work, that tells me all I need to know. Does it really help paint a clearer picture when the teacher tells me he's a "pleasure to have in class"? And if there really is a need for a comment, the teacher can include it. Second, I never see the comments after I enter them. If I went to the bother, I could find them, but it would take some time. However, the parents and the students see them all the time. So if I say, "Doing solid work," then he doesn't hand in his next three assignments, his grade report looks like this: "GRADE: F; COMMENT: Doing solid work." So I have to go back in and change the comment every time that one of my 70 students' grades drop? False.
2. Eliminate the gum-chewing rule. Ridiculous. People don't put gum under desks, etc. because they don't know what else to do with it. They put it there because they're trying to hide it so they don't get in trouble.
3. Extend lunch. The bell that tells us lunch is over rings 25 minutes after the bell that tells us lunch is beginning. That's not long enough. I would gladly extend the school day 20 minutes if it meant we got a longer lunch. Gladly.
4. Teachers would get to use late starts. Every two weeks, we start school two hours late. If teachers were allowed to use this time to their advantage, it would be outstanding. But we're not. We have to get technology updates and other nonsense that no one (including, more often than not, the presenters) thinks is really important. I could spend that time designing tests and working on course transitions.
5. All boys would be sent away for one year. Specifically, the year between their freshman and junior year, otherwise known as their sophomore year. I hate sophomore boys.
6. Extend Winter Break by one week. For whatever reason, a lot of people seem to think it's a good idea to have a short Winter Break (this year, the 22nd was our last day, and the 2nd was our first day back) so that we get out earlier in June. False. School in June is way easier than school in January. I'd much rather have a nice long break in the middle and spend one more week here in June. I won't listen to discussion on this point.
7. Institute corporal punishment. Because there's a kid in my class that I'd like to smack right now.
And that's it. Those seven changes would make this a perfect school.