Dohn makes news again with a Curtis Fuller, WLW-T, segment on the success of our four-day workweek
Microsoft’s subsidiary in Japan increased productivity by 40% using a four day work week. There are also reports of increases in employee happiness working four days instead of five. Many European countries and New Zealand report improvements in the quality of life when people work 27 to 32 hours a week instead of the usual 40 hours a week that is the United States standard.
A key to the success of a four-day workweek is maintaining a 40-hour income at 32 hours of work. Those European countries can make that work, and so does Dohn’s progressive leader, Ramone Davenport.
The Challenges Dohn Teachers Face
Teachers in charter schools make less than unionized teachers who work in the public school system. Also, Dohn’s teachers have to provide levels of parental type care in addition to their teaching duties. Suburban school teachers have the support of the parents; often, inner-city teachers do not have parental involvement. In other words, there is a considerable burden on Dohn’s charter school teachers.
Here is a case in point. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation awarded Dohn a grant for adding tutors to help our students read. While we reported on our home page the success of a Dohn student receiving a $92,000.00 scholarship, the reality is that most of our teenage students arrive at Dohn reading at a second-to-fifth grade capacity.
Students who were not read to as infants or toddlers end up with low reading capacities. Also, severe poverty and persistent exposure to violence impair learning. Diane Lang is one of the tutors whose position was funded by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation grant.
Ms. Lang reports that she worked with one student who was capable of the work, yet due to life trauma, she came to school, stating, “I can’t, and I won’t read or do the work.” As a wise tutor, Ms. Lang shares, “Working with her, I knew her reading skills could be unlocked.” The tutoring approach she used was to read out loud to her, sit down next to her and show her how to read, breaking down words and phrases in ways that helped with comprehension.
Due to Dohn’s credit flex programming, this student is now graduating one year ahead of her age-appropriate graduation date. Ms. Lang shares, “I knew she had the smarts, not the skills or the connections” of word and sentence comprehension.
Another student experienced extreme physical abuse at home. It took months for Ms. Lang to help the student feel safe to calm down and enter into a learning mode. Thanks to Ms. Lang’s excellence as a tutor to inner-city youth, this student also excels in her reading now.
“Working with her, I knew her reading skills could be unlocked.”
With six years’ experience as a principal and four years’ experience as Superintendent, Mr. Davenport knows something about teacher burnout related to the classroom situations described above. As an innovative leader ahead of the curve, he decided to implement a four-day workweek for Dohn’s teachers and staff.
Superintendent Davenport had to create a system that worked for the students, staff, and school. As such, Dohn’s four-day workweek considers Fridays as a flex day for students. They leave school on Thursday with school work for Friday that is returned to teachers on Monday. This flex schedule provides students with a reliable schedule for working or taking care of responsibilities at home.
Teachers and staff are required to work one Friday a month. Some come into school to work on Friday’s; others choose to work from home. The teachers monitor the students’ work remotely, and they can catch up on their work in a quieter space with only a skeletal crew in place.
This shared rota of Friday responsibilities has the added benefit of improving staff cooperation, collaboration, and team morale. Teachers and staff cover for one another on their one Friday to work. Team coverage brings everybody together in a direct experience of working together and sharing the workload. Dohn’s four-day work week experiment, as Curtis Fuller reports, is a success.
In December 2018, the Ohio Department of Education designated Dohn as a consultancy school. This distinguished designation means that Dohn serves as a leader in the field of charter school education of students at risk for dropping out.
Regular readers of our website know that Dohn is a Cincinnati Success story. We have so many wins here, turning the lives of traumatized students around through education. Superintendent Davenport saw the big picture and knew that the progressive step of a four-day workweek helps us continue our success as the premier school serving Cincinnati’s most vulnerable youth.
Dohn is one step ahead of the curve. Given the needs of the students we serve, we have to be. Fortunately, as a charter school, we move through bureaucratic tape quickly. We meet student-specific needs with unique and flexible programming. Dohn meets the needs of teachers and staff with that same flexible programming, as our successful four-day workweek demonstrates.