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EDITORIAL: Gunn should keep current bell schedule, consider changes to tutorial.

The Creative Schedule Committee (CSC), which has been tasked this year with developing an alternative bell schedule for the school to adopt, is currently discerning the preferences of the student body and staff. Recently, students were asked to complete a survey which asked for feedback on the bell schedule covering passing periods, tutorial and class times. According to Dean of Students James Lubbe, the CSC is collecting data to decide what specifics of the schedule to address. The committee hopes to incorporate teacher collaboration time and small group guidance meetings, as well as increase tutorial attendance. In September, the CSC will be drafting two preliminary schedule plans to be reviewed by teachers and administrators. The Oracle believes that the CSC should leave the majority of the bell schedule as is, while addressing tutorial placement, teacher collaboration and small-group guidance meetings.

The CSC can be reassured that changes do not need to be made to the main structure of Gunn’s bell schedule. Having six 58-minute periods is the best arrangement because it provides balance between periods that are too short or too long. In 58 minutes, teachers can cover all the material of a lesson and students are more likely to be able to focus the entire time.  In comparison, having seven-period-day schedules and 70-minute period schedules are both flawed in this regard. The shorter periods of a seven-period day can make it more difficult for teachers to cover all the planned lesson material, while longer 70-minute periods can drain students. In addition, when a student is out sick, there would be more work for him to return to after missing a longer class. In addition, traditional block schedules contribute to a more stressful workload, since homework is assigned in larger chunks because classes meet less often. Students who tend to procrastinate will have more homework to deal with at the last moment. Thus, traditional block schedules are not worth the increase in student stress.

Another feature of Gunn’s current bell schedule that is beneficial to students is its current tutorial system, specifically tutorial’s placement and length. While the CSC hopes to increase tutorial usage, changing the placement and length of tutorial would only discourage students from attending tutorial use. Currently, conducting tutorial as the last period in the day provides a more flexible time placement which allows students the freedom to choose whether or not to attend, especially if they need to leave for after-school programs. Placing tutorial in the middle of the day would force students who do not need tutorial to stay at school an extra hour longer than they do normally, and placing tutorial in the morning would be ineffective because students would be more likely to sleep in and skip tutorial rather than participate. Meanwhile, the current length of tutorial is advantageous to students as is. Extending tutorial duration would only interfere with the plans of teachers by asking them to stay past 3:35 p.m., the usual ending time, while shortening it would prevent students from acquiring the assistance they need.

Instead of moving the placement of tutorial or adjusting its session length, the CSC should consider increasing tutorial sessions to both Tuesdays and Thursdays. The current schedule doesn’t provide enough flexibility to students in terms of when tutorial occurs. By restricting tutorial to Tuesdays only, students who consistently have after-school activities scheduled on Tuesdays are not able to attend tutorial. Furthermore, Tuesday might not always be the best day for tutorial, since many tests occur at the end of the week. Therefore, Tuesday tutorials are not always relevant to these assessments. If the CSC were to increase tutorial occurrence, students who originally weren’t able to attend after school sessions on Tuesday would then be able to. Similarly, tutorial sessions would coincide more closely with test and project dates, and therefore encourage attendance. Thus, the CSC would achieve its goal of increasing tutorial usage.

While The Oracle believes that there should be little change to Gunn’s bell schedule, it feels schedule revision in order to accommodate small-group meetings and teacher collaboration time would be a worthy endeavor.

Currently, students rarely have the opportunity to interact with their specific counselors on a personal level. Students attend counseling sessions that are not necessarily held by their specific counselors. However, under the Guidance Advisory Committee’s (GAC) vision of small-group meetings, these sessions would always be held by the assigned counselors, allowing students to build a stronger relationship with them than under the current meeting formats.

In addition, The Oracle finds that the results of teacher collaboration efforts would greatly benefit students. Cross-department curricula that parallel each other would help develop classes which complement each other for a greater depth of learning. In addition, teachers may be able to design schedules which consider the upcoming tests and projects from multiple subjects. However, under the current schedule, teachers are rarely able to meet across departments for collaboration since not enough time is allotted for collaboration and department meetings on Thursdays.

Considering the positive ramifications of small-group meetings and teacher collaboration, it would be reasonable for the bell schedule to be modified in order to accommodate these two new developments.

All in all, The Oracle finds that the CSC should not change the primary structure of Gunn’s bell schedule, though changes to the schedule for the sake of incorporating teacher collaboration time and small-group meetings would be reasonable, considering their academic benefits. Furthermore, The Oracle would recommend the committee to consider increasing tutorial occurrence in order to achieve its goal of increasing tutorial attendance.

 

—Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the staff (assenting: 31; dissenting: 6; abstaining: 23)

 

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