Study Hall: It's Not So Bad

Study hall, Homeroom, WIN time, or some cutesy name related to your mascot (i.e., PAW Power time, Knight Time, you get the point). The part of the day many teachers find a... challenge.

Some schools combine these times; some have them separated; some are right away in the morning, in the middle of the day, or at the dead-end of the day.

While each situation is a little different, we all face similar issues: students trying to leave the room constantly, students coming in the room constantly, students trying to act like they are not on their phone, “typing a paper” (aka watching YouTube), sleeping… and the rare student who actually utilizes this time effectively.

What if I said you don’t have to hate this time? You can actually look forward to this time every day and gain so much from it!

So the question comes down to this: What do you want to get out of this time?

Here are some options to consider before making that choice! 

Prep or No Prep?

The last thing I want as a teacher is another section to plan and prep for; clearly, I am team no prep. In my classroom, most of this time is utilized for silent reading, crosswords, word searches, other quiet games/activities, and a time to relax. But, of course, if a student has an assignment, they are more than welcome to do it. If they have questions about an assignment, they can ask. If I need to help a student in a small group or one-on-one, I do. These options require no prep, and the students enjoy this time. When they go to their next class, they are refreshed and ready! 

Build Relationships:

Use this time and focus only on building relationships with students. No phones (for you or the students). Talk. Play games. Watch a show. Listen to a podcast. Let them teach you something. Focus on building a community within your group. How often have you heard, “the kids have changed,” but do we even know them? Or are we just seeing the surface level? Let’s remember why we teach— it is not to feel overwhelmed and jam-packed every minute with instruction. Stop. Focus on building relationships. This time is an excellent opportunity to do that. 

Prepare in Advance: 

Now, there is nothing wrong with having a more structured time. Initially, these can be a lot of prep, but with experience, this turns out to be minimal. That way, when it comes time for your next group, you have an outline already ready.

Here are some simple outlines I have used: 

  • Listen to podcasts
  • Read a series of fun informational texts and discuss
  • Read the newspaper or blogs and discuss current events
  • Assign days for specific learning objectives: Monday and Tuesday - Vocabulary and Grammar; Wednesday and Thursday - Writing Skills (check out Simply Novel's ready-to-go writing activities and worksheets here); & Friday - Reading Comprehension
  • Assign Weeks: Week 1- Reading Comprehension Activities, Week 2- Vocabulary, etc.
  • Focus on one skill during the entire rotation based on the needs of the students
  • Complete a novel study together
  • Try Literature Circles (HERE are some tips on how to use Literature Circles)
  • Engage in Socratic Seminar on novel topics or current events
  • Have students write on a variety of Journal Topics & discuss their responses

Of course, before making your decision, ensure your choice aligns with school and district goals. This would be even more ideal if your entire grade or PLC were doing something similar. 

What are you doing during this time? Share in the comments! 

by Erin-Jane Stevens, Contributing Teacher/Writer. Erin-Jane Stevens is a middle school ELA teacher who strives to bring excitement to each class she sees.  She continues to find and create fun, new, and rigorous ways to captivate students’ attention and grow their love for ELA.

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