5 Ways Flex Periods Improve Educational Equity
Oftentimes when you think about Flex Periods and their purpose, improving educational equity may not be an initial consideration as one of the benefits. Usually, intervention, enrichment, and clubs all come to mind, and of course the idea of more time for teachers and students, but when thinking about educational equity, it can seem unlikely that a Flex Period could be a factor in improving such a complex and critical issue in schools. Though Flex Periods might not improve all facets of educational equity, they can definitely make educational equity a part of the school’s discourse and increase stakeholders’ awareness, as well address providing every student with what they need to be successful. In this post we will discuss what educational equity is, why it is important, and how Flex Periods can be a part of the process to improve it.
What is Educational Equity?
As we look for a working definition, it’s important to consider the ambiguousness of how equality and equity can be used and defined. Equity varies from equality, in that equity means every child receives what they need to develop to their full potential, whereas equality means every child receives the same.
Note: a variety of iterations of this image have been developed but the original is included above
There are many conflicts in what equity and equality are which make it difficult to surmise the information, but considering the complexity, it definitely makes sense.
Below are two definitions that can help give a clearer understanding:
The National Equity Project definition: “Educational equity means that each child receives what they need to develop to their full academic and social potential.”
The Great Lakes Equity Center definition: “When educational policies, practices, interactions, and resources are representative of, constructed by, and responsive to all people such that each individual has access to, can meaningfully participate, and make progress in high-quality learning experiences that empowers them towards self-determination and reduces disparities in outcomes regardless of individual characteristics and cultural identities.”
Now that we have a better understanding, and can talk to the point that educational equity means that every child receives what they need to develop to their fullest potential - both socially and academically, let’s look at the importance of educational equity.
Why is Educational Equity Important?
Now that we have a working definition of what educational equity is, we need to consider why it is important in reference to our schools. When considering curriculum, initiatives and anything else changing the status quo of the inner workings of a school, student outcomes are at the top of the list when making changes. Therefore, understanding the importance of educational equity in improving student outcomes is definitely worth ruminating over because educational equity supports student excellence.
When we research this topic, we learn that the purpose behind it is so that all students succeed under the right conditions. It also means taking a closer look at our underserved populations within our schools and making determinations for what they need to reach their fullest potential. Therefore, it is important to level the playing field for underserved students and more closely scrutinize and mull over their academic and social needs.
5 Ways Flex Periods Improve Educational Equity
We know that Flex Periods have many benefits. These periods in the day can be an opportunity for great growth and success. When we consider the process of improving educational equity with a Flex Period, we need to look at what this period of time can provide to ALL students, and in which ways it may address the diverse needs and barriers of your learners. Flex Periods are a great way for students to have more access to resources that will bolster their education. Therefore, with flex time, you will embark on “creating a level playing field” for all students in your school so they may receive what they need to develop to their full potential. Let’s examine a few ways a Flex Period can be a part of the process to improve educational equity.
Providing Opportunities During the School Day
One of the areas that Flex Periods improve educational equity is through providing opportunities during the school day. This option eliminates many obstacles for students and staff alike. Oftentimes, if these educational opportunities happen outside the regular school day, many staff and students are unable to participate due to transportation issues or because of other activities or work schedules, not to mention the challenges that come with compensating staff. Teachers are better able to provide these opportunities to those underserved when they themselves are not kept from fully focusing on their students. Outside of the school day can be tricky for various reasons for staff, but the difficulty is usually even greater on students.
Frequently, transportation, home obligations and even employment stand in the way of a student being able to participate in educational opportunities that will help level the playing field. Flex Periods are a game changer for students that need to help at home more or hold down a job for additional income. These things are out of their control. However, the Flex Period option opens doors that have often been denied to them previously. Therefore, every student can engage in opportunities that will benefit their academic, social and emotional outcomes.
Every Child Has an Opportunity to Receive Intervention or Help
Flex Periods are a great place for more opportunities for individualized support. Such as extra help and interventions. Every student is able to receive intervention or the help they need when a flex time is a part of the day. Some examples of reaching the underserved and addressing individual student needs may look like stakeholders adapting their teaching styles to match students learning styles. Another example would be holding sessions that provide students with the background knowledge they need to be successful in an upcoming unit or to fill learning gaps to be successful in their current learning. It can also look like small group intervention in the core subject areas. Educational equity is about leveling the playing field, if you will, and Flex Period offerings such as these mentioned above, as well as the other endless possibilities, provide an important opportunity for every child to receive supports they need to achieve excellence.
Every Child Has an Opportunity for Enrichment and Creativity
Many times, students that are underserved do not have the same opportunities to receive enrichment or participate in clubs and explore other avenues to stretch their creativity. The Flex Period provides a great opportunity for students to engage in such activities. During a flex time, students can also participate in clubs during the school day. This makes it possible for every student to have an opportunity that they may otherwise not have outside of the school day for various reasons beyond their control. Some teachers may offer special sessions that extend a lesson for another layer of understanding. Other enrichment options allow students to be creative, participate in activity-based learning, career exploration, experience guest speakers and general exposure to topics that they may not have the opportunity to see, hear or touch in their lives outside of school.
Social Emotional Learning
We know that not all learners walk through our school doors having had the same social and emotional support. Further, today’s youth are dealing with the social isolation and uncertainty aftereffects of COVID-19, greater social media influences, peer pressure and cyberbullying, not to mention general mental health needs. Therefore, many schools are looking for time in their daily schedule to provide supports for every child. Flex Periods offer that time and gives schools the opportunity to improve academic performance, reduce bullying and create positive classrooms while instituting SEL programs during their flex time. This is why it is so important to offer this within the school day.
Flex Periods offer an opportunity for every student in your building to receive the social emotional learning that will help them be more successful not only in school, but also their communities and their futures. In addition, this period in the day provides stakeholders an opportunity to present more relaxing offerings, mindfulness activities and counselor availability. The flex time has the potential to provide every student with the ability to see counselors, mentors, and provides access to other staff members that they have a relationship with for social-emotional reasons. Every student is then able to receive instruction and support at the level of intensity they need to become their best selves by developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for success in school and life.
Helping Students Become More Engaged in their Learning
Providing a Flex Period can help students become more empowered and engaged in their learning. This time in the day provides students with opportunities to manage their time and develop independence. Flex Periods often offer choice for students by allowing them the opportunity to choose their sessions which in turn gives them ownership and a willingness to be more engaged. Further, every student having a choice and voice, especially those who might not often get that opportunity, allows them an opportunity that is often unavailable after school.
Another factor in student engagement is the types of offerings. Teachers can be found offering sessions that vary from the regular classroom. In some instances teachers can provide extensions of the regular class learning experience. They may offer students an opportunity to learn in ways that support their learning styles, and provide students more access to resources that enrich their education. It can also allow students to see people they identify with in their school experience, whether it be through race, gender, ethnicity, or anything else. Flex Periods offer more time for students and teachers - and every student is afforded the opportunity to receive what they need to reach their full potential.
As you work to serve every student in your school, consider the ways that your school community can work together in improving educational equity, and bettering the academic, social and emotional outcomes for children walking through your school doors each day. Flex Periods can be a part of that process for your school. Flex Periods remove obstacles created by outside of school day opportunities. Flex Periods provide additional time for you and your staff to address this complex and critical issue by offering support for all students and attending to their specific needs during the regular school day and enabling them to thrive. Further, understanding and focusing on those underserved students through Flex Periods and the opportunities within, is a great way to make the lives of students better.
If you would like to take a closer look at the many benefits of flex time, or if you are wondering about other ways a Flex Period can be a part of your students’ success, schedule a demo here to learn more about how we could help.