Written by Mikaela Wayne
Published in the September 11, 2015 issue
With the start of the 2015-2016 school year came a new bell schedule. Not only do classes now vary in time depending on the day of the week, they also now end at different times and meet fewer times per week. While fewer class days ensure a decrease in student workload, overall the changes are confusing, hard to follow and considerably inconvenient for students and teachers.
After understanding these concerns, the bell schedule committee should take comprehensive steps to remove these inconsistencies and alleviate the school’s transition to the block schedule.
Firstly, class times that vary depending on the day of the week are difficult for both students as well as teachers. Even though classes meet for the same amount of time each week, having class times of 70, 75 and 80 minutes depending on the day can make adjusting to the new schedule even more difficult than it already is. For teachers, planning daily lessons to fit the allotted time period can be challenging when there is no way to grow comfortable with the differing lengths of each class. Teachers also only had one summer to make plans for a new schedule for the entire year, which might affect the quality of their lessons. Meanwhile, students are forced to adapt to a schedule that lacks regularity in both duration and ending times.
On some days, students and teachers might feel that there is not enough time to complete the daily lessons, and on other days there might be too much time left at the end of class. These gaps in lesson structure have the possibility of negatively altering teachers’ curriculum. A way to solve the issues that do appear would be to continue to train teachers about how to use their time differently.
The second complication comes with the differing ending times. One obvious issue that arises with these times is after-school activities. For students whose extracurricular activities take place at the same time every day, having school end at different times every single day makes it difficult to maintain a consistent schedule. There are major discrepancies in a student’s day-to-day schedule if that student has to attend an outside activity at the same time every day. The one upside to having a schedule like this is that students will not get bored doing the exact same thing every day and getting out at the same time, but this improvement seems minor in comparison to the problems brought up by different end times.
There are ways to improve the current difficulties and make students’ lives just a little easier. Specifically, time could be evenly distributed across the week instead of having days that end one hour later than others. This way, classes can still get out early, but class times will not vary. Small fixes like this will help relieve student stress and make the new bell schedule an easier adjustment. Moreover, the modification enables students to attend regular after-school commitments.
The new bell schedule committee made the classes vary in time in order to have classes get out early more times a week, but this results in inconsistency. Admittedly, there are upsides to schedule inconsistencies such as less homework and greater interest in classes. However, the negative aspects of the new system warrant further action by the committee.