A new schedule system for the 2011-2012 school year has been proposed by a committee of faculty members and department heads to address student and parent concerns about the pace of the school day, the homework load and the way class time is used by having fewer, longer class periods each day. With 80-minute block periods, 55-minute regular classes and a reduction to seven total class periods, the idea of a new schedule has left most students abuzz about how these changes will affect their school life.
The proposed new schedule differs drastically from the current schedule, which has been in place for the past ten years. According to Assistant Head of School and Director of Upper School Laura Hotchkiss, the plan coincides with Marlborough’s objective of fostering a more valuable and thorough learning experience, and aims to ease concerns expressed in the 2010 parent, student and faculty surveys.
The proposed new schedule consists of a predictable five day rotation of seven class periods in which each class meets three times per week, with one block period scheduled on Wednesday or Thursday and 55-minute class periods on other days. Other changes include designated “office hours” periods with free time for the entire school and a five minute passing period.
While classes will meet less frequently, the overall amount of annual class time per class will increase from approximately 5445 to 5970 hours.
Because this schedule reduces the total number of class periods in a rotation from eight to seven, students enrolled in seven different classes will not have a free period. The “office hours” time included in the new schedule three times per week is designed to ensure that students have time to meet with teachers. However, some students said they are concerned that this time will not be sufficient.
Marisa ’14 said that she worries that “office hours” will make quiet study areas scarce.
“We won’t have anywhere to go because the ARC will be so crowded. So with an all-school free period, I most definitely will not be able to get anything done,” Marisa said.
Foreign Language Department Head Leigh Hansen, a member of the schedule committee, said that she looks forward to having more time in class.
“It will just be a little more relaxed,” she said. “I think that that really helps foster a love of learning.”
Hotchkiss, who also teaches Algebra I, agrees that increased class time will help students learn more efficiently and effectively.
“I don’t think that all of the teachers are going to be cramming in ten more minutes of material. As a math teacher, I see this as a great opportunity for students to begin work in class, to make sure when they go home at night that everything makes sense,” Hotchkiss said.
According to Hotchkiss, the new schedule will most likely be implemented this fall, though changes are still being made and the administration is open to making slight adjustments even after the schedule is in place.
A final edition of the proposed schedule, which was shown to faculty, All-School Council and the Student Constitution Committee in January, will be presented in detail to the entire community sometime this March. In addition, the School plans to post an FAQ sheet on Marlborough’s Haiku LMS page as soon as possible to minimize confusion.
“I really hope that students will keep an open mind, and I hope that they will seek out information rather than creating information,” Hotchkiss said.
Maya ’12 said that while many of her classmates are ambivalent towards the idea of a new schedule, the change is necessary.
“This is, I think, a step in the right direction towards reducing the stress,” Maya said.