Finding flexibility in our schedule

Whether waiting in lines at Disney, or enjoying travel on the Shinkansen, October break is a great time to catch up on reading all those extra articles saved to Pocket.

Want High Schoolers to Succeed? Stop giving them fifth grade schedules“, on “The Hechinger Report”  really piqued my interest.  The school only has structured lesson times on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the students’ learning is self-directed: they study the subjects they need to work on the most, on a drop-in basis.

I can see something like this working well at my current school where we need to find time for students to have alternative learning experiences, such as PBL, internships and mentorships; we also want to allow for differentiation: students spending time on disciplines where they need to improve most.  Surely such a strategy would also significantly help to develop every student’s self-management skills.

In practical terms, we currently have a 10-day schedule, where each Friday either has periods 1-4 or periods 5-8.  So each period would lose one hour per fortnight if we kept Fridays unscheduled.  Our school a small, but very active student population, and many students are frequently absent on Fridays due to extra curricular events.  If we changed Fridays to be a non-scheduled day, the often high rate of absentees would not impact lessons as it does now.

Obviously students would need to be held accountable for how they spend that one day per week.  Actually, this provides another opportunity within our school.  We are looking for ways to make the homeroom teacher’s relationship and interactions with students more meaningful, and using the week’s homeroom sessions to plan and document with students how they use their Friday would be an ideal vehicle.   I am sure we could arrange for one of our school’s coding gurus to create an app that students used to enter their schedule and goals for the day, that then could be relayed to teachers so they know which students to expect at what time.  Some kind of reflection, celebrating the day’s achievements regarding goals set, and outlining next steps, would also be included in the structure.

What do you think?  Is a move such as this too risky, or is it a much-needed respite from our timetabled education system?


About eadurkin

Originally a HS Mathematics teacher from New Zealand, currently working as Associate Principal in the Secondary School at Canadian Academy, an international school in Kobe, Japan. Married with two children.
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2 Responses to Finding flexibility in our schedule

  1. I say go for it! You never know how your students will respond when you give them increased freedom and responsibility. Every time I’ve wanted to make a change that similarly puts students in the driver seat of their education, all the reasons not to do so are driven by thinking about the students that won’t be able to handle it, rather than those that might blossom under the new structure. Building in support structures is obviously required. Trying to think of everything that will be required in advance though is an easy way to postpone or altogether block these opportunities for growth.

    Far too often, we prevent change by letting a fear of losing control dominate our decision making. That fear can blind us to the limitations that such control places on the learning of our students.

  2. loslemleys says:

    Liz – I love this idea! Time and space to work on building skills, PBL, service and internships would definitely benefit students (and teachers) Let’s make it happen ^_^

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