As part of the 2014 Strategic Plan, the Schedule Counseling Committee is considering four potential schedules for the school day, which will go into effect during the 2017-18 school year.
The first proposed schedule involves having seven terms instead of three and and three periods in a day instead of seven. Instead of the usual ten weeks, each term will be five weeks long, and students will take between two to three classes. Although class lengths are not finalized, they could range from 75 to 90 minutes instead of the current 45 and 75 minute blocks, said Andy Housiaux, Instructor in Religion and Philosophy and Chair of the Schedule and Calendar Implementation Working Group.
The second proposed schedule has four terms and five periods in a day. Students would usually take four courses per term— Juniors would take five courses for two terms, while Lowers, Uppers and Seniors would take only three courses in one term. Students can take a total of five classes since the fourth term will carry on classes from either the first, second or third term. Each term will be eight weeks long with class meeting for a 75 to 90 minute block.
The third proposed schedule keeps the current three terms and allows up to six classes per term. It follows the typical Wednesday schedule with three 75 minute classes on Monday and Wednesday and a Thursday schedule with four 75 minute classes on Tuesday and Thursday. Friday will remain the same with seven 45 minute blocks. Classes will also start at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., giving students an extra 15 minutes in the morning.
The final proposition is to keep the current schedule. All models were created to maintain the current course of study, according to Rachel Skiffer, Dean of Policy and Strategic Planning.
During Monday’s faculty meeting, Housiaux said that faculty members led an open discussion in which they spoke about how to support students.
“We want all of you to thrive — ethically, intellectually, and creatively — and to live balanced lives. We have the sense that this is not always happening. We’re trying to figure out how to best organize time to support all of you in that undertaking,” he said.
“Does that mean starting the school day at 8:30 a.m so that you could sleep in more? Does that mean thinking about lights out policies or technology policies?” he continued.
According to Housiaux, some faculty members believed that students should take fewer classes per term, and faculty should teach less students, so that students and faculty would getto know each other on a deeper level.
Housiaux said that the target is to figure out a way to best support students in terms of sleep, stress and time management.
“We met with a consultant whose job it is to look at schedules and design them. we visited other schools and we’ve read extensively in literature on educational research, utilizing both the librarians at the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library and at Harvard Graduate School of Education,” said Housiaux.
In addition to conducting external research, the Schedule and Calendar Implementation Working Group also hosted various sessions in which they would talk to students in focus groups about their experiences with the amount of homework and high level of stress.
Housiaux also mentioned that as part of their internal research for the new schedule, faculty members will be shadowing students throughout their classes. Four faculty members will each shadow one student. So far, they plan on shadowing two Juniors and two Uppers.
“A typical day for a student involves a lot of intellectual transitions. [They’re] moving from Chemistry to English, to Math, to their language… [They’re] moving [their] bodies all over campus, having to deal with being hungry after 3rd period but not having lunch until 6th period. The hope with the shadowing is that faculty can better understand what it feels like to be a student and what it’s like to make these kind of transitions,” said Housiaux.
The first round of voting for the new schedule will start within the following few weeks. According to Housiaux, the potential choices for schedules will be cut down from four to two by the beginning of December.