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Thursday, December 22, 2011

A first doable step towards school success

The first thing they should do is get rid of A/B block scheduling and go to a six period day. If you didn’t know, in high schools we have several different schedules revolving around the A/B block. The A/B block used to be kids would have four ninety minutes classes one day and four different classes the next. Budget cuts changed that and many schools have seven classes, six that meet every other day (three one day and three other the next) and one shorter class that meets ever day. Then the intervene schools have six 90 minute classes (again three one day and three other the next) that meet every other day and two 45 minute classes that meet everyday. That’s seven or eight classes!! A full time load in college is four classes yet for some reason we expect kids to be able to take twice that many and be successful and it doesn’t matter if they go to Stanton considered one of the best schools in the country or our intervene schools which are considered some of the worse. It doesn’t matter if the student loves school or is like many of our kids, apathetic.

Ninety minutes is also way to long. Kids attention spans can’t maintain, heck I am an adult and I start squirming in movie theaters as films pass the ninety-minute mark. That is a lot of time to fill and it’s hard and that’s why many teachers have taken to giving bell work and exit slips or what I like to call busy work to their students. Think about it, if just ten minutes a day is wasted over the course of a year that’s a month of instructional time lost. I know so many teachers that say they go strong from minute one to minute sixty but by about minute 75 and beyond they are just winging it. If classes were shorter kids couldn’t get bored as quick and since boredom often leads to bad behavior this would be lessened too.

Then if a kid misses an A day on a Thursday then they will have gone from that Tuesday to the following Monday six days between classes. If they had the same class every day then there would be just one day between meetings. Breaks can be even longer if there are holidays. At one point this past year during testing I went eleven days between seeing one of my classes. If the kids were there everyday the material would be reinforced everyday.

If there were six periods in a day it would increase the chance that children would have an elective or class they liked on their schedule. We make school such drudgery for children and then wonder why they do poorly. If a kid had a break in their schedule or something they looked forward to this would undoubtedly lessen kids apathy towards school.

There are two reasons we went to an A/B block schedule. The first is money; you need fewer teachers with it. The second is for advanced placement tests. Joey Wise our previous superintendent was worried that kids that finished first semester AP classes wouldn’t do as well on the tests because they are all given at the end of the second semester. Last I heard Joey works for College Board the maker of AP tests. Kids that take AP tests make up just a small percentage of the student body at the intervene schools. We didn’t go to an A/B block for the benefit of most of our students.

Six periods a day between fifty minutes and an hour is what we should be doing. Where there are lots of things we need to do to assure these school's success this would be a good and doable first step.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher

1 comment:

  1. My favorite schedule was a 5 period day. Students saw their 4 core classes everyday, and their elective was every other. Classes were 75 minutes long.