by Elaine Christensen, Middle School director
Approximately one year ago, we decided to review and potentially change the Middle School daily schedule. Now, after researching best practices, surveying our community, shadowing students, designing multiple schedule options, running a pilot, and collecting feedback from all constituencies, we have decided to adopt an ABC schedule in the Middle School. This new schedule, which will begin this fall, has the strong support of students, faculty, and parents/guardians.
Here is just an example of the feedback we collected from over 300 responses to our post-pilot survey.
- "In my opinion, the pilot was much better than the Monday-Friday schedule. Each class was more in-depth, and I had less homework. Also, the transitions were easier because we had time in the class instead of just switching classes a lot during the Monday-Friday schedule." (student)
- "Overwhelmingly positive experience. Longer class periods feel better, somehow makes the day shorter, maybe because there are less transitions. More free time is great, means more time for homework during the day, this makes for higher quality homework, not rushed, and less stress at home. Everybody gets a free period 2 out of every 3 days, this is super helpful for homework and for getting help during school time if needed. More time is great, feels like it relaxes the pace in a busy day." (parent/guardian)
- "The teachers had more time to cover more material, and even though it was only 5 minutes, the classes seemed much more relaxed." (student)
- "I loved the community time thing. When we have advisory in the afternoon, it's a welcome break from a hectic afternoon." (student)
- "The five extra minutes was noticeable and provided more work time. Less transitions made the day seem less chaotic (esp. Thursday); I and students expressed liking the [activity/community time] ACT time in the middle which provided a break; ACT seemed meatier with more opportunity to add value to student's experience, both in advisory and with the larger community." (faculty)
There are many exciting things about the new schedule. Here are three I'd like to highlight.
- Classes will be 50 minutes instead of 40 or 45, and they will start and end at the same time every day. This may seem like a small thing, but students and faculty recognized that this increase in minutes allowed for more depth in each class, as well as increased time to get help from teachers.
- The schedule runs in a three-day rotation (A, B, C). Short weeks will no longer create classes which are out-of-sync, allowing classes to have more coherence and consistency in their content.
- We have added a midday, 40-minute activity/community time (ACT). During ACT, we will have advisory (at least 60 minutes each week), Community Meeting, special speakers and presentations, and all kinds of student programming including affinity and alliance groups, Drop-Everything-And-Read, grade-level games, and preparation for service-learning days or outdoor trips.
This spring and summer, the Middle School faculty will be hard at work reorganizing their curricula to fit this new schedule. We are 100 percent committed to delivering the same high-quality program that students love. We will also be working on a strong slate of ways to use the ACT time, with the goal of enhancing community at the Middle School in every way possible.
To learn more about the process and details about the schedule, see my article from January, "Test driving a new schedule." As always, please feel free to reach out to me or Middle School Assistant Director Ted Chen if you have any questions!
Elaine Christensen '82 is Middle School director and Lakeside's director of professional development. Reach her at MSdirector@lakesideschool.org or 206-440-2772.