Faculty assesses potential of different bell schedule layouts
The administration held a staff meeting on Feb. 1 to solicit feedback on different bell schedules that combine block and 45-minute periods. No decisions about changing next year's bell schedule have been made, according to Acting Principal Myriam Rogers.
At the Feb. 1 discussion, teachers voted on the next step the administration should take in its review of Blair's bell schedule. Options included sending staff members to observe other schools with different schedules, scheduling an additional discussion opportunity, receiving more literature on schedule options, planning experimental days to try different schedules and gathering student feedback. Observing other schools and gathering student feedback appeared to be the most popular, according to Rogers.
The results of the voting will be presented on Thursday at an Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) meeting. At this point, the ILT will decide whether to continue pursuing the topic and if so, how to proceed.
The different schedule options presented were a block-day schedule, an eight-period day schedule where lunch is a scheduled period, a schedule that consists of three days with seven periods and two block days and a schedule that includes four block days and one day with seven periods. These options were only basic models for teachers to review, according to staff development teacher Claudette Smith. "We just wanted to say, 'here are the options,'" she said.
According to social studies teacher and elected faculty representative George Vlasits, the administration first mentioned the hybrid bell schedules several weeks ago. After Vlasits suggested that the administration seek input from staff, the topic was added to the Feb. 1 meeting's agenda. Rogers agreed that drawing feedback from teachers would help the administration assess whether a change in the bell schedule should be implemented. "We wanted to honor their reasons for or against different schedules," she said.
The Feb. 1 meeting gave faculty the opportunity to address the advantages and disadvantages of the current and different bell schedules. The issue proved to be multifaceted and controversial, according to Vlasits. "The interesting thing is, there is a wide range of opinions," he said. Major concerns included the value of in-depth discussions in some subjects, frequency of scheduled class time and maintaining a controlled environment between classes.
Smith downplayed the likelihood of a schedule change for next year, asserting that the purpose of the meeting was simply to ascertain teachers' feelings on alternatives to the traditional block schedule. "It is just a conversation to get feedback from the staff," Smith said. "Right now, the bell schedule for next year is the same."
Vlasits felt that inviting teachers to take part in the discussion will facilitate a smoother transition to a new schedule should the administration decide to make changes. "For any change, if teachers don't put into it, it won't work as well," he said.
Blair switched from a 45-minute period schedule to a block schedule around 10 years ago, according to Rogers. She said that the renewal of this topic was to evaluate what is and is not working currently. "The intention was to assess how we can best give students learning opportunities with teachers," she said.
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