A couple of superintendents ago, our district added work time onto Mon-Wed and Friday classes so that students could get out early on Thursday. For an hour after kids leave on Thursdays we teachers are supposed to "collaborate". It's a great theory, it just doesn't work well. Those of us who need to collaborate can't wait until Thursday afternoon--we talk between classes, or at break, or at lunch, or before and after school. Even if we could wait until Thursday afternoon, our administration often gives us a list of things to be done during "collaboration time" that precludes our discussion of actual academic content.
Three times this semester we had extended, 3-hr meetings after school to discuss next year's accreditation visit and associated planning. To compensate us for that additional time, our principal will now allow us to leave on Thursdays as soon as our last class is over. Since there's no more mandatory collaboration time, anything that needs to be done will get done on "our" time, but it's still nice to be able to leave a little early on Thursdays.
I organize a happy hour each Friday after school, we call it 7th Period. Getting to leave early today, I thought it would be fun to schedule a special Thursday edition of 7th Period in addition to tomorrow's and see if anyone new might show up.
Around 2:30 a small group of us met at The Cheesecake Factory and had a late lunch. No rushing, no waiting for a microwave to be available, no students sending another teacher in to tell us that some student out in the hall "needs" to talk to one of us. No, we sat for two leisurely hours and had a nice meal, with good company, conducting adult conversation, with no interruptions.
No one liked those 3-hr meetings, but we're reaping the rewards now!