The new schedule, introduced last year in May, has been one of the most controversial changes made by the administration this past couple of months.
Attracting both admiration and strong criticism, the new schedule has been a highly debated topic among both students and teachers.
Last year, when the administration announced the new schedule, they outlined the following goals as the reasons behind the schedule change, and claimed that the new schedule “achieves almost all the goals identified.”
How has the Administration defended these changes?
One of the biggest questions asked by students was in regard to goal number two, as many realized that the schedule does not provide more time for IB HL classes.
One student specifically asked if we could calculate the hours gained by IB HL classes.
Per our calculations, shown to the right , both HL and SL classes lose 20 minutes of instructional time per month.
This adds up to 3 hours less of instructional time in any given class per school year.
When approached about the topic in an exclusive interview, Mr. Markus defended the change by claiming that while the school had been meeting its hour requirements, the problem with the old schedule was that
“because we had this strange scheduler where once in every four weeks you had a flex, there was not really this ability to keep up with your courses. Those extra 85 minutes were tacked on in random places.”
What have students been saying?
The infrequency of the flexes last year, according to Mr. Markus, was what caused the issue for the IB.
Mr. Markus clarified that while 240 hours is the goal for IB HL courses, the school was well within the acceptable range of teaching hours, and that no additional instruction time was needed.
Despite the claim of the administration that flexes in the previous schedule were not conducive and “tacked on” to our regular classes, students feel that the new flex system doesn’t fare much better.
One student claimed that “you can’t get anything done during the 20 minute flexes in class,” and elaborated that “a lot of times they (the flexes) feel quite useless.”
This is especially true in classes where both SL and HL students are taught at once. Another student claimed that the flexes are hard because they are “interrupted by class passing time.”
What is the faculty saying?
On the other hand, some teachers pointed out that the flexes do serve a purpose, in that they allow for not only more flexibility if a teacher needs more time to do testing or run a mini-mocks.
Ms. Cole also pointed out that the flexes are opportunities for students to “reconnect with their friends, have a snack and maybe get rid of some built up energy through the day.”
Regardless, Mr. Markus pointed out that numbers alone should not be the focus when assessing the new schedule.
While yes, classes lose 20 minutes of instructional time per month, they also meet more frequently, which seemed to be something that is appreciated.
For example, Ms. Canzanella, who has taught in the school for many years and has seen countless different schedules, claims that meeting her students 3 times per week is the “best part of the schedule,” especially in a school like ours where extracurricular activities often mean that students have to miss class.
Other concerns about the new schedule
Another concern of the student body has been about the 5 classes per day instead of 4 classes, which has also led to less advisory time, shorter lunches, less time for homework , and less regular breaks throughout the day.
When asked whether students would prefer the four 80-minute classes versus the five 65-minute classes, a small majority of the students have showed a preference for the four classes per day.
Despite 21% of students expressing a liking to the shorter class time, many have also said that the five classes per day with a short lunch and no break between certain blocks is “exhausting.”
This has also been expressed by some faculty members, who describe a similar difficulty when having to teach all five classes in one day.
What about counseling blocks?
Another issue raised by students is the conflict with the new counseling blocks. In the past, counseling blocks occurred on the free flex block every two weeks.
This year, however, counseling blocks occur weekly, and have been scheduled on a students free block (in most cases.)
While the administration claimed that this new arrangement provided less scheduling conflicts for students, the student survey suggests otherwise.
Looking at the replies of 12th graders, as they are the only grade who had counseling blocks both this year and last year, it is clear that more students have scheduling conflicts with the new schedule.
While 5% of the respondents claimed to have had a scheduling conflict due to counseling last year, this year, that number increased to 38%.
However, Mr. Markus did say in his interview that as this is the first year of the new scheudle, this conflicts were bound to happen and that next year will be better and smoother for everyone.
Further, when reaching out to the college counselors, Ms. Infante claimed that the new schedule provides “increased access for students” as there is more free time to meet both with university and emotional-personal counselors.
She also added that college counselors “appreciate the dedicated time and space for Grade 11 and 12 Counseling Blocks.”
Rakning of the new schedule by students, whereas a 5 is amazing and 1 is terrible
There is no denying that the new scheudle has caused quite an uproar here at the upper school.
Both students and teachers alike have expressed their likes and dislikes of the schedule, and it certainly has its advantages and disadvantages.
Bellow, the general attitude towards the new schedule of grades 10-12 who experienced the old schedule can be seen.
However, once comforting this to keep in mind is that Mr. Markus guaranteed that the administration is working on collecting feedback and making improvements to the schedule.
That leaves a very real possibility that improvements will be make for next year.
However, perhaps the most thing to keep in mind is a point that Ms. Canzanella made, and that is that she “is still not used to it.”
This schedule is a change, and like any change, it takes time to adjust to it and embrace it.
Perhaps until we do, we can never truly judge or set our opinions about the new schedule.