To address concerns over short lunch periods, back-to-back 70-minute teaching blocks, and lost class time, the administration recently shared with The Gator a revised sample schedule set to take effect next fall.
“I see the new schedule providing a nice balance to school life, including day-to-day operations and supporting student achievement,” says Assistant Head for Academic Affairs Joe Iuliano.
In the fall, special assemblies on African drumming and success and setback, as well the Harvest Fest and an election workshop, cut into class time. To compensate, the School announced plans to jettison traditional midterms, including a review week leading into a week of exams before the holiday break.
This spring, the School carved out classroom time to accommodate assemblies for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Syrian refugee crisis, an Irish choir, gender equality, and an Earth Day celebration.
Here are some of the new schedule highlights, and how it addresses many of the challenges faced this year.
In addition to the 10-minute Thursday meeting, the new schedule will include an additional 10-minute advisory block Tuesday.
“We want to provide more built in time for students to develop their relationship with advisors and to build our advisory programming,” says Upper School Head Joshua Neudel, also noting that he and Middle School Head Carl Valley want more time for advisory groups to delve into suggested discussions and activities, introduced this year.
Lunch will be extended from 30-to-40 minutes, and begin ten minutes earlier for the Middle and Upper Schools. The additional time should also offer the opportunity for more meaningful meetings for clubs or between students and teachers, before rushing to the next period, Neudel says. Moreover, as part of the planning for the new dining commons, he says, more seating and efficient spacing should allow more time to eat.
“The energy students get from food needs to sustain them during the day and will help them be more effective learners,” says Neudel. “The slightly earlier time will also allow students more time to digest before heading out to athletics.”
The 2:30-3:10 Wednesday assembly/activity block will shift to after Upper School lunch, “reducing the need for special schedules,” said Neudel. The period will also be used as a make-up block for lost classroom time, which impacted instruction heavily this year, or if a lunch runs longer than expected. Visiting presenters will also have the opportunity to enjoy lunch with students and field questions.
Additionally, whenever possible, assemblies and programs will be scheduled at least two months in advance to fit into the block.
“We will be planning to have a monthly assembly that allow us to discuss important issues as a community, be exposed to the work our community is doing, and invite in experts in their fields,” Nuedel says.
With the new schedule, Neudel thought to do something to help limit lost class time due to cross country meets, which typically require an early Wednesday afternoon dismissal for about 20-to-30 runners.
“To do this, during cross country season we will take another period that is not last period and rotate it with the normal last period block on Wednesdays,” Neudel says. “This way, the same block will not be impacted every week.”
Breaking-up of 70-minute blocks
Additionally, a 40-minute block will occur between each morning’s 70-minute blocks.
“It’s very hard to learn at your best when you’re going from one long class to another,” says Neudel, who, in helping to draft the new schedule, shadowed students throughout the day to get another sense of needed change. “We think that this will be a much better experience for teachers and students,” he says.
To accommodate the changes, School will end at 3:15 p.m., or 5 minutes later than the existing schedule. Middle School will gain 5-minutes of class time each day.