A Peek Into the Minds of Students and a Teachers: How Do YOU Feel About the Upcoming Schedule Change
By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about the upcoming dramatic change to College Prep daily schedules. Whether you’ve witnessed horrified protestations, neutral shrugs, or cheering, I think it’s safe to say everyone has an opinion on the shift, and to be quite honest, I’m pretty confused by some parts of this whole thing. How will the block schedule implement free periods, such as days when we currently don’t have art classes or seminars? Why did the committee responsible for the block schedule feel that a change was necessary? Perhaps most importantly, how will it affect our homework load? (I’ve heard a frankly terrifying amount of people worrying about that last part). To seek some clarification for my questions, I spoke with our beloved history teacher and Radar advisor, Dr. Kojan. The following transcript paraphrases the responses I received.
Me: So, how long has the schedule development been in progress?
Dr. Kojan: The idea has been discussed over the last 4 years, but its recognition as a definite goal really began last school year (2014-2015). We studied other schools’ structures, and the intensive schedule development has been in the works since September 2015.
Me: How will seminars and arts (i.e., classes that don’t currently meet 5 days per week) change with the new schedule?
Kojan: That’s not entirely decided yet. It’s likely that English seminars will meet in all available class periods (seven out of ten days), but as I said, it’s unclear right now. Each department will have a lot of lesson-planning to do over summer break, so the arts departments and seminar teachers will make their decisions then.
Me: Do you know how long I’ve been looking forward to having Wednesdays off from a class?! Arghhh. On that note, actually, how do the members of the scheduling committee feel about the surge of backlash from a lot of the students?
Kojan: Most of them expected it, because it is a huge change and will take a while to understand and implement. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it when you first see it; there are a lot of pieces. When students’ negativity reached the point of wanting to protest, though, THAT took them by surprise. But we’re not trying to make your lives more difficult. The schedule change was made with you all in mind. We hope that your workloads will decrease a little, and maybe the protesting students haven’t realized or accepted that yet.
Me: Alrighty – thanks for the interview, Koj.
We have a teacher’s perspective, but what about the student body opinion? After all, you’re reading this article to get insight about feelings surrounding the schedule development. I sent a survey to each class asking for their opinions. I will say, I went into the survey process expecting a lot more negative responses than I ended up receiving. Based on the language being used after the class meetings regarding the change, I braced myself for a torrent of vitriolic descriptions of the scheduling committee. The results, however, were a pleasant surprise. (Keep in mind, each grade gave between twelve and twenty-two responses, so my data is probably skewed).
When I asked our innocent class of 2019 if they approved of the schedule change, the majority replied that yes, they were excited and the “positives outweigh the negatives.” Only about 30% of freshmen don’t like the idea of a block schedule. On the subject of the chunks of time to be used for teacher meetings, community activities, clubs, etc., freshmen were neutral. Some said that they didn’t think these periods would benefit them personally, but that others could definitely use the time.
The class of 2018, on the other hand, was more than 50% against the schedule change; their main concerns were the upcoming 75-minute classes and the idea of scheduled community time. However, for the latter, people said they thought community time would be fine if the all-school activities were to be handled well, and cater to the students’ interests. An anonymous sophomore: “change is cool”!
Two-thirds of the junior class didn’t want the schedule to change. I think that in part, it was due to having spent three years on one schedule and the knowledge that their senior year would be different. I received a lot of “no way” and “this is ridiculous” answers. One student simply wrote “nope” or “I don’t care” as an answer to every question. Some juniors, though, were very enthusiastic, saying that the schedule was long overdue for an adjustment and they couldn’t wait to try it out.
I asked a few seniors if they’d heard underclassmen discussing the change, and if so, how did the mood sound? The seniors said that the tone had been mostly negative.
Do these responses sound encouraging? The thing is, people become more tolerant to the schedule change every day. Like I said, I received many more positive responses than I had expected; over the last two weeks, people have become vastly more cooperative in regards to the schedule. I think that by the time next year rolls around, far more people will accept the block schedule rather than gripe about it. Mirai Hutheesing (’17) wrote a long and eloquent paragraph in her survey response, describing her adjustment from fury to excitement; though at first she was really upset, she’s now enthusiastic about the blocks and variations in when classes meet. My hope is that we’ll see more cases like that as the weeks go by.
What about me? How do I feel about it? I’m neutral-leaning-towards-positive about the schedule. I don’t like change, but hey! – we have to accept that it’s happening, and they at least gave us substantial warning. Five months in advance is enough for me. As to the 75-minute blocks…I guess I’ll get used to them. I have to agree with the history teachers in that regard; an hour and fifteen minutes WILL be really, really helpful in terms of what we can accomplish in class. Also, every department has specified that tests will NOT be the full length of a long block, so there’s no need to worry about that.
Now, let’s talk about homework. As yet, it appears that most teachers haven’t made a clear decision on how they’ll assign homework on a block schedule. Like new curriculum, homework will also be a major focus of the teachers’ over-the-summer planning. I asked each grade if they thought the block schedule would decrease their homework load; nearly everyone thought it would not, but they retained some hope. I believe that the volume of homework will be about the same or increased slightly, but with increased free time on the average school day, I’ll hopefully be spending less time doing homework AT home. To me, that’s what matters. I’m completely burned out for about an hour after the school day (that hour is when I eat ice cream and watch YouTube in bed). With any luck, I won’t have as much work left to do after my relaxation time.
Overall, I can’t say I’m jumping up and down euphorically about the schedule change, but I’m far from angry. I’m welcoming the block schedule into my CPS career, and I recommend that you all do the same. A change is coming, whether we like it or not; that said, try liking it. I believe there’s nothing wrong with a positive attitude.