Students at Visitacion Valley School in South San Francisco observe 15 minutes of quiet time every morning.
By Kyle Palmer
On a recent morning at Visitacion Valley Middle School in South San Francisco, Principal James Dierke looked out over the school’s auditorium at more than 100 eighth graders. A restless din filled the large room. Bursts of laughter and errant shouts punctuated the buzz. Most of the students seemed disinterested in Dierke’s announcements about the spring’s impending graduation, upcoming field trips, and recent birthdays.
Then, Dierke struck a bell and said, “Okay, it’s quiet time.”
And just like that, a hush fell over the auditorium. Students straightened their backs and closed their eyes. Some bowed their heads. Others rested them on the backs of their chairs. The once-boisterous hall became silent and remained so for the next 15 minutes.
“Visitors are always amazed,” Dierke said afterwards, “but it works. It really is quiet time.”
“These kids hear gunshots on their way to and from school. That kind of stuff makes it hard to focus on algebra.”
“Quiet Time” isn’t just a slogan but a daily regimen at Visitacion Valley. The entire school—faculty, staff, and students—spend the first and last 15 minutes of every day in silence. Students are encouraged to use the time to meditate, but Dierke says students can simply clear their mind, think about schoolwork, or even sleep. Just as long as they are quiet.
“I’ve found that it makes people—students and teachers—more joyful,” Dierke said, “To have that time to reflect and be still is important.” Continue reading