Tag Archive for schedule

Rethinking School for Today’s World

This is a desktop version of my PechaKucha presentation at the NWAIS Educators Conference. I discuss how belief inspires purpose, which in turn suggests program change initiatives.

 

UPrep’s New School Schedule

This Wednesday, we will launch the new structure for the school day, designed through a comprehensive process last school year.

Schedule Goals

Support greater focus and depth of study
Compared to the previous combination of 45 and 65-minute periods, consistent 70-minute periods allow students to enter, explore, and consolidate a topic each class meeting.

Moderate the pace of the day
During the schedule study last year, we learned that running seven periods in one day and starting classes at 8:00am contributed to feelings of scatterdness and stress.

Support collaboration and social emotional learning
The schedule includes consistent time for faculty to collaborate, students to work on group projects and study teams, and advisors to organize social and emotional learning activities.

Provide enhanced student support
Students have more time to seek out teachers for academic support, build relationships with community members, and receive feedback on their work.

Design Features

A later daily start with a before-class period that allows access to teachers, particularly for students who cannot control what time they arrive to and leave school.

Longer periods that meet less frequently and rotate on a predictable, weekly basis. The periods in the new schedule start and end at the same time every day.

Fewer transitions between academic classes. It takes quite a bit of mental energy and time to change modes from one subject and class environment to another. The new schedule reduces the number of times each day that this happens.

A daily advisory check-in and one longer weekly advisory that strengthens the student-advisor relationship and supports our social and emotional learning activities.

A daily, 60-minute community time block for assemblies, long advisory, clubs, meetings, special events, study skills workshops, and Community Conversations (Upper School).

A lunch period reserved exclusively for lunch. Students and staff members will be able to slow down, get their lunch in plenty of time, and sit down to eat it with others instead of rushing off to a meeting or event.

Practical Considerations

How many classes may students take?
Seven classes per semester, the same as last year. In a fully rotating schedule, periods 1, 2, 3, and 4 meet on the first day, 5, 6, 7 and 1 on the second day, and so on.

When are students expected to arrive to school?
Middle School students are required to attend advisory check-in at 8:15. Upper School students must be present for A block at 8:25.

What will students who arrive early do?
Students choose how to spend this time, and the school makes many educational and social opportunities available starting at 7:45 AM. These include Open Gym, Library and Makerspace activities, seeking academic support from a teacher, or developing math and writing skills in department offices.

Will conflicts occur between B block and Community Time?
Yes, those who teach or study in cross-divisional (Middle and Upper School) classes will sometimes experience schedule conflicts from 9:50 – 11:45. They will receive information from teachers or advisors about which activities take priority during these times.

How have teachers prepared to design 70-minute lessons?
These new time blocks are similar to the 65-minute periods in our old schedule, so our teachers have much experience designing a high quality, 70-minute lesson. Since all class periods are now 70 minutes in length, teachers have adjusted the plan for the semester to reduce the total number of learning objectives and study them at greater depth. Teachers have also practiced developing 70-minute lesson plans that follow an arc from introduction to immersion, practice, assessment, and reflection.

Conclusion

Schedule change is a bit like moving furniture. It takes a while to get used to, you make adjustments here and then, and soon it begins to feel like home. If you have further questions, please post them to the comments field below, and I will answer them. Thank you to everyone who was involved in the schedule design process last year, including committee chairs, department heads, families, and students.