The Upper School schedule that goes into effect for the 2019-2020 school year is designed to allow our Upper School students to be prepared for the challenges of college and to discover their best innovative, athletic, artistic, selves. And most importantly, it allows them the time and the space to consider other interests and to become involved in new things. We believe deeply that each of our students has abilities and talents far exceeding what they might believe possible. The framework of our new schedule offers students the time for discovery, deeper learning, and more chances—more chances to create, to innovate, to collaborate, and to excel. The schedule was developed using five guiding principles: quality learning time, healthy pace for students, collaboration time, community time, and access to program.
Quality Learning Time
The new schedule runs on a eight day cycle, with classes meeting every other day and rotating vertically through the schedule. That means students will have no more than four academic classes per day (which means students will have two nights to complete homework for their classes), and these classes will meet for longer periods of time allowing for more group work, in-class projects, collaboration, and discussions that will prepare them for their courses in college and their future work environments. And because classes will not always meet at the same time of the day, those classes that tend to always be the ones affected by earlier dismissals or late arrivals will no longer be regularly impacted.
Healthy Pace for Students
If we want our students to thrive, to stretch themselves, to consider more than how many books they can fit in their bag so they don't have to stop at their locker before the next two classes, then we need to thoughtfully consider how they are moving from place to place. As such, in the new schedule the time between classes will be longer, allowing students to move at a healthier pace, to stop and say hi to a friend, to pop in and let a teacher know they would love to connect later in the day about an upcoming quiz. Each day there is a 65-minute period dedicated to STAT (student teacher appointment time) and lunch. This longer period allows time for students to connect with their teachers and to catch up and decompress with friends for lunch. The day is smoother; it is healthier. The students are at the center of the schedule, rather than trying to catch up to it.
Access to Program
In the new schedule, students will have the opportunity to take six or seven classes, which means a student can, in addition to the core classes required at each grade level, take a class simply because they want to. Because the subject matter is interesting. Because they want to know more about Mandarin, ceramics, statistics, 3D printing or Social Entrepreneurship. And all students will have at least one free period in their schedule that will give them time to meet with their advisor or college counselor, visit the academic center, or tackle some homework or prepare for a test. Additionally, because there is an academic class adjacent to the STAT and lunch period, teachers and students will have the time necessary for off-campus learning experiences.
We are committed to ensuring our students and teachers continue to have opportunities to come together as a community, to share perspectives and experiences, and to listen and learn from one another. Community time at the end of each day offers dedicated time for clubs and class meetings, and Chapel will continue to be held weekly, as it is a sacred and special time for our community. It is also important for our teachers to have the opportunity to come together for conversation and collaboration. Each morning before the start of the school day, teachers and administrators will participate in a Professional Learning Community (PLC). The PLCs will enable teams of teachers and administrators to connect in a regular and dedicated way to plan together, reflect on and revise curriculum, evaluate assessment data, and collaborate to support students. The PLC period will also enable teachers to participate in committee work focusing on whole school initiatives, planning, and curriculum development. This time together for the teachers will tremendously increase the impact they will be able to have on individual students and their needs.
The new schedule has designated time for STAT providing invaluable opportunities for students to connect with their teachers and each other. Additionally, the extended class periods naturally increase opportunities for students to work with one another and with their teacher in the moments of learning in the classroom, without the disruption of needing to move on to another class.