Opinion: 80-minute classes are way too long

Zoom is a website used among many teachers to interact with their students virtually. Zoom is very useful with online learning.

Credit: Julia Raymond

Zoom is a website used among many teachers to interact with their students virtually. Zoom is very useful with online learning.

When I first heard that we were switching to 80-minute classes, I thought that it wouldn’t be too bad, since we usually have 56 minutes which is not too big of a difference. However, it’s become clear that these classes are far too long and something needs to change.

A few teachers have asked their students for opinions on the long classes, and the majority of kids have responded that they would rather meet more frequently but for less time. Personally, I would rather meet four times a week for a shorter period of time, than two times a week for a longer period of time. Most of us are used to our old schedules, so this new one has us constantly glancing at the clock.

Focusing for that long is a big problem for me and most likely many others. It is very difficult to keep my mind from wandering during class time, especially since we are remote, which makes it much harder for the teachers to keep the class entertaining and kids off their phones.

I think if we were in person, these 80-minute classes would be manageable. When you’re in the classroom, there’s a social aspect and engaging activities to take part in. By making these classes shorter, kids could focus for a longer period of time, and we could get the most out of each class.

As a result of longer classes, there’s a lack of participation as well because kids quickly lose interest when the class starts to drag on. If classes were shorter, the flow of the class would be better and kids would be more attentive. This would help in-class discussion by having conversations become more in-depth with more students engaged in the topic.

These long classes also affect students’ energy levels from day to day. I am exhausted by the end of the school day because I’m staring at a screen for long periods of time with minimal breaks. My guess is kids who participate in after-school activities such as soccer, field hockey, and football, lack energy after spending a day with remote learning. By shortening class times, we could take advantage of the breaks in between to give our eyes and minds a rest.

Since the class periods are so long, teachers always try to maximize their time by teaching as much content as possible. In this situation, it would make it hard for a student who has missed a few classes to catch up on work. Shorter classes cover less material and would make filling in on missed work easier. Catching up on missed classes can be stressful, and some students will quickly be overwhelmed.

80-minute classes were a good experiment but clearly didn’t work. Hopefully, when we switch to the hybrid model, we can shorten these class periods and get back to our old schedule. For now, the school needs to recognize the way these classes are affecting people’s lives in a negative and lasting way.