New Year, New Schedule: Students and Staff Share Their Thoughts

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Lucy Loeb

“There’s pros and cons to every schedule,” science teacher Mr. Ryan Kain said.

Lillian Paugh, Editor

Returning from summer break this year, La Salle students and staff were met with a new bell schedule, and the change has caused an array of mixed reactions and feelings from members of the community.

However, the “new” schedule isn’t really new to many of La Salle’s staff and a handful of students, as a version of it was used before COVID-19 forced students into digital learning and had to be adapted thereafter to accommodate the circumstances, science teacher Mr. Ryan Kain said.

“While it’s been kind of a whirlwind to switch schedules every year,” Mr. Kain said, “there is a sense of familiarity, just because I know I’ve used it before.” Spanish teacher Ms. Lisa Moran shared a similar sentiment, saying that it was “easy to return to it,” because of her prior experience teaching and planning with it.

For many, the schedule, which consists of a “straight seven” schedule on Mondays, four subsequent block days with rotating periods, and Wednesday and Friday late start times at 9:15 a.m., has both positive and negative aspects. 

The consistency of the new schedule, which deviates from last year’s constant rotation of block schedules each week and inconsistent start times, has been seen as a bright side for some amid the other changes. Math teacher Ms. Kristin Boyle said that she likes being able to know what schedule to expect ahead of time and, with that, what to prepare for her classes, rather than having to try to figure it out every week. 

“I didn’t like the fluctuation, not knowing what a Tuesday was going to look like,” Ms. Boyle said.

Still, some students and staff expressed that the new schedule presents difficulties for them — particularly with its inclusion of the straight seven each Monday, which consists of all seven class periods, all shortened to 45 minutes.

“I don’t like [straight sevens] very much,” senior Alex Crocket said. “They’re all short, and you can’t do anything.”

Whether students and teachers are able to be productive on straight sevens is a concern for both groups, as some students feel like they can’t focus or get enough work done in the shorter time period. “I think that it’s not enough time in a class period to actually learn something,” sophomore Jazzy Keenan-Mudric said. Some teachers also expressed that straight sevens are not practical for teaching the same way they would on a block day with 85 minute classes.

Instead of trying to teach an entire lesson within the time given, some teachers have said that they are utilizing Mondays as a way to introduce the week ahead.

Mr. Kain described using Mondays as a way to check in with students, as well as a way to prepare for the week “so that when we hit the ground running on Tuesday, we can do so,” he said.

Having all seven class periods in one day, however, is “very exhausting,” Ms. Boyle said. “By the end of the day, I’m super tired, as are students.” 

Cognizance of the homework load for work due on Mondays and Tuesdays is also something many teachers have expressed an awareness of. There are concerns of students being overburdened with work over the weekend due to the straight sevens on Mondays and also the workload for Monday nights as students will have some of the same classes the next day.

“I think that it is our job, as teachers, to help our students maintain balance,” Ms. Moran said. “We need to ask ourselves, as teachers, ‘Is what we’re assigning absolutely crucial for that Monday? Can it wait until Tuesday so that students, on weekends, have some time to rest, have some time to spend with their family, as well as whatever else in life is happening?”

Still, the straight seven schedule has its upsides, some teachers say, as it provides teachers a third point of contact with students within the week — something that would vary each week with the previous schedule, with some students seeing some of their teachers twice a week and others seeing them three times.

“As a language teacher, and in particular, I like to see my students three times a week,” Ms. Moran said. “For me, it helps me to maintain the flow of the curriculum, it helps me to make sure that students are tracking the information more, and it feels like we get more repetition so that they’re learning more.”

Maintaining consistency with the new schedule and avoiding having to change it drastically each year is something that some teachers are very hopeful about looking ahead, but they are still not opposed to having to modify it in case of persistent problems.

“Let’s get through maybe two years in a row with [the schedule] being the same — make small tweaks,” Mr. Kain said. “At this point, I just want it to stay the same for a hot second.”