by Aneal Singh
From elementary schools to high schools to colleges and universities, scheduling is a significant task for all educational institutions. Great scheduling provides the necessary foundation for schools to function effectively and to experience success.
The reality, however, is that many of the systems that schools have in place are often time-consuming, inefficient and lead to numerous conflicts. However, at Samueli Academy, Principal Mr. Saba announced the fifth alteration to our schedule, introducing a more “college-like” system.
According to studies done by The Atlantic, students in high-performing nations such as Finland, Korea, and Japan spend the same or less time as American students in school. The myth that American students spend less time learning than students in other industrialized nations is false. It is also clear from studies that increasing school time is very expensive and there is little return in achievement. Reductions in class size and peer tutoring, for example, have been found to be far more effective.
Following a similar schedule as to the countries listed above, the new schedule will shine a spotlight on flexibility and availability. “With the new schedule we wanted to make sure that everyone is satisfied with the status quo,” English teacher, “Coach”, commented, “We have come to understand that not every student desires to take eight classes, so we listened to the student's voice and took action.”
The minutes and hours of the school day are critical to building knowledge, foster student motivation, and drive student outcomes. To make the most of precious instructional time, teachers must first develop engaging lessons that meet the various needs of students. This requires teachers to collaborate, plan, and reflect outside of instructional time. Effective school schedules maximize the time teachers spend with their students but also recognize teachers’ additional responsibilities beyond instructional time.
Currently, the set plan for the year to come is to have a minimum of six classes to be taken and a maximum of eight. Though it has been suggested to maximize one’s schedule, if one were to choose the option of taking six or seven, they would have the option for late starts (at 10:20 a.m) or early release (at 1:50 p.m). With students taking six periods (getting early release or late starts every day) and students taking seven periods (getting such a start every other day), the schedule of period classes would only alternate from 1-4 on one day and 5-8 on the other (therefore eliminating Friday’s grey and orange schedule). Sophomore Clarissa Acosta said, “I will probably take seven classes because I do not find the use of taking two electives, I would rather prioritize myself towards strengthening my grades.”
Though some may ask if this new schedule would provide advisory or x-block, there would an advisory but not an x-block. Instead of having ninety minute periods, on such a day when advisory is provided, periods 2, 3, 6, or 7 (the ones everyone has to take) would shave off ten minutes each in order to accumulate a 20-minute advisory. Spanish 1 and 2 teacher Mrs. Ta stated, “When we discussed this schedule change I wanted to make sure that advisory is kept since I have seen it provide assistance to those who fall short. However, I was fine for letting xblock go because it seemed that many people were getting distracted by the time they had.” With this topic being the centerpiece of debate within teachers voting upon schedule changes, teachers and students alike are split on whether advisory and xblock should stay as it is.
Furthermore, when tasked to deliver differentiated, high-quality instruction that prepares students for the social and academic challenges in college and beyond, schools must push their thinking on how they allocate time throughout the school day. Innovative school schedules should meet diverse student needs and ensure that all teachers are primed to deliver engaging, rigorous content. As schools across the country reimagine their school day schedules, they will be most successful if they customize the use of time to meet content needs rather than adapting content to fit a fixed schedule. Freshman Justin Duimstra said, “I am really hopeful for the year to come and I believe it is a great alteration that allows for one to prioritize their time and see what fits for them.”
Editor Board, 2017-2018
Editor in Chief: