Our Changing Schedule: Part 1

Drew Junkins begins his geometry class at 10:53 and goes to 12:41, covering points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids while still engaging his students. He keeps them moving with hands-on activities. Students enjoy Drew’s class, but still eye the clock, wondering how long until class ends.

Drew and his students, like everyone at U-32, will likely be experiencing changes to our schedule in the coming years. Any of these possible changes would come with trade-offs.

“I would love to have math every day,” Junkins said. “That allows students to hang onto the concepts for longer because they get a refresher every day.”

“On the other hand, under 50 minutes is very short for a class, math especially,” Junkins said.  “I would have to rush through everything and there wouldn’t be very much hands-on, active work.”

The U-32 scheduling committee has met twice and has only started to look at possibilities. Eric Scharf, an 11th grader, is a member of the scheduling committee.  

“We’ve looked at other schedules from other schools around Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, seeing how many classes they have and how long they are,” Scharf said. “We’ve looked at a few possibilities, like 8 classes a day, all being 40 minutes. Another one is called ‘Trad,’ which is 7 classes at 44 minutes each.”

Our current schedule was created by a scheduling committee almost 8 years ago. In the high school now, students have four classes a day, for an hour and fifteen minutes each.  Many students feel classes are too long and can’t pay attention for the entire time. From the teachers’ perspective, the downside of our schedule now is that classes only meet 2-3 times a week.

Amy Molina, U-32’s student affairs director, remembers when U-32 ran on the trimester system.

“In the past, you met with your same class every day but a shorter amount of time,” she said. “After we changed from trimester to semester we made the bands longer and you met every other day. “

From a student’s perspective, Carter Little, a 10th grader at U-32, thinks it would be challenging having the same class every day. “You would have to bring all your class binders,” Little says, “and homework would be due every day. “

James Hickman, an 11th grader, thinks that there shouldn’t be any changes to our schedule. “I think classes give us enough time to do all of our work,” James says “and still not get too bored.”

But, he does think that class time can be used better. “Our teachers give us time to do homework at the end which I don’t mind but I feel like we could use the time more effectively.”   

Sleep, stress, and extracurricular activities can all have an effect on how much a student retains from a lesson. “In a study of student attention, trained observers watched students during a lecture and recorded perceived breaks in attention. They noted attention lapses during the initial minutes of “settling-in,” again at 10-18 minutes into the lecture, and then as often as every 3-4 minutes toward the end of class.”

The scheduling committee will continue to meet this year. Its likely even next year there could be small changes. The year after that there could be bigger changes.

“I don’t think that there is a perfect way to structure a school day,” Amy said. “If there was then they would have found it. We just have to find what works for our school.”