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Bell schedule changes considered

Discussions are underway to modify Gunn’s bell schedule. Currently, the Creative Schedule Committee (CSC)—responsible for developing the new schedule—is looking at the needs of students and staff members. Led by Dean of Students James Lubbe, the committee hopes to modify the schedule to better accommodate student academic life, emotional health and extracurricular activities. “It’s about supporting students in the ways we’re not supporting them right now,” Lubbe said. “We want students to be balanced, so if we can somehow modify the schedule in any way to help the students achieve that, then we’re doing what we need to.” Additional priorities include increasing usage of tutorial, allowing more time for teacher collaboration and creating opportunities for small-group meetings with counselors.

The CSC was formed after the Instructional Council—a group consisting of instructional supervisors, administrators and program directors—found a recurring theme in the recommendations it received. According to Lubbe, some staff members expressed interest in opportunities for teacher collaboration, while the Gunn Advisory Committee (GAC)  recommended small-group meetings for counselors and their students. Both proposals would require changes to the school structure.

Currently, the Gunn schedule does not have a consistent time period for teachers to come together and discuss common courses, plan classes and more. Instead, teachers rely on common prep periods and personal time to do so. In addition, a move towards a blended delivery of one-on-one and small-group meetings with counselors would require a more flexible bell schedule. According to GAC member and Assistant Principal Tom Jacoubowsky, the goal is for students to meet in small groups with their assigned counselors two to three times each year. “It would allow us to create more opportunities for students and their counselors to be in connection with each other,” he said. Ideally, the modified bell schedule would accommodate both teacher collaboration and small-group meetings regularly.

According to Lubbe, the CSC has looked at over 50 possible bell schedules, but has not yet made any decisions on any specific formats. “We’re not locked into any one model,” he said. “To say ‘this is the way we’re going to go’ would be detrimental to the whole process.”

Before developing ideas for possible alternatives, the committee hopes to first determine school needs. In order to achieve this, the CSC gathered student responses to block schedules, seven-period days and adjustments to other fixtures, such as tutorial and the passing period.  Results showed that the majority of students were supportive of the current bell schedule.

Senior Neel Guha agrees that Gunn’s current schedule is fine as it is. He finds that having a block schedule or having consistent seven-period days would provide either too much or not enough time. “I’ve never had a problem with the schedule,” Guha said. “The schedule isn’t broken, so you don’t need to fix it.”

The CSC will continue to discuss staff and student needs until the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Around next October, the committee will develop two alternative bell schedules to present to the staff. According to Lubbe, the bell schedule is unlikely to undergo any major changes.

 

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