That’s Not My Name

What’s with this title anyways?

Traditional American public school days are divided into three main times: structured, unstructured, and semi-structured.

Classes with core coursework such as English, History, and Math, are considered structured. There is an instructor in charge of telling you what to do, how to do it, and if they are good, why it matters.

Unstructured time, more affectionately  referred to as “jungle time,” is anytime without direct supervision or instruction. This typically lunch, before and after school and special cases like early dismissals. Finally, there is semi-structured time. Semi-structured time is when there is limited supervision but, still an expectation of staff to get  students where they need to be when they need to be there.

Semi-structured times are more commonly referred to as “Passing Periods.”

Passing Periods are designed as cushion in the transition from one point to another. They are the necessary ‘in between,’ like white space in a book. They set the scene for what’s to come next. In a school setting it’s deigned to allow a student the opportunity to ‘do what the thing is best’ in heading to the next scheduled class. Say for example, a student really has to use the restroom but, instead uses his passing period to go to a friend’s locker, grab a drink from the vending machine, and walk unnecessarily slow. [students always walk unnecessarily slow] Said student then arrives at the next class and still has to use the bathroom. If he were a middle-schooler, he’d have three options: wait, use it on himself, or get a demerit. The entire period the student is now consumed with what he could’ve, should’ve and would’ve done if he had the passing period to do over again.

But, he doesn’t have the passing period to do over again.

Moving to Denver, working in education. This is my passing period. I’ll either use it and make the most out of this opportunity or next year I’ll be sitting around wishing I had ‘gone to the bathroom’ when I had a chance.




Author’s Edit:// I no longer live in Denver. I now happily reside in the deep south continuing to live and work for [what I consider] the greatest civil rights issue of our time: filling the opportunity/achievement gap that exist between students of high income households and those of significantly lower households.


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