Old schedule or new schedule?
Falcons spent the first interim adjusting to the new "Green and Gold" block schedule, introduced to promote social distancing. Now, the school has reverted to its old schedule (a modified block schedule). Gauntlet Editor-in-Chief Sully Maley and contributor Allie Serterides share their thoughts on the switch.
October 26, 2020
Green and gold is the way to go
The green and gold schedule made students’ lives easier by alternating days in which they attend each class and should be kept for the remainder of the school year.
This school year, Saint Stephen’s looked for new and innovative ways to allow students to come back to campus while also social distancing and minimizing potential exposure to COVID. One of these ways was the high school adopting a new block schedule.
We switched to an “A and B” schedule, also known as “Green” and “Gold days,”,with Green day’s featuring three block classes and Gold day’s featuring four. This new setup was designed so that students would get the same weekly class time, but the traffic in the hallways between classes would be decreased, the number of student interactions minimized, and overall, less student movement and contact throughout the day.
The administration (and many schools across the country) felt this was the safest way to keep students socially distanced and allow for potential contact tracing.
The only downside to this schedule was that students would now be faced with long classes: 1.5 hours is a long time! For teachers, it’s difficult to keep their students attention for that much time, and for students, it’s difficult to maintain focus. However, students seemed to get by just fine due to their strong work ethic.
Regarding the block schedule, junior Kyle Klett said, “I don’t like block math but I like the A/B schedule because I can better prepare for quizzes and tests. I have more time to learn everything because I’m not as overwhelmed by work from all my other classes.”
At the beginning of the school year, the new block schedule was hard to adjust to at first because students were used to the old one. But as the school year progressed students started to find their rhythm.
However, starting the second interim, it was decided to return to the schedule of old (which features one block period per week with single 45-minute periods for the other days). This is the “modified block schedule” that the high school knows and loves. But for this year, in these circumstances, I don’t necessarily like this idea and I’ve polled many, many students who feel the same.
Freshmen Isabella Sanchez said, “I like the A/B schedule because the classes were long so we only had half the classes that we do in the new schedule. It was a lot easier to understand harder lessons because it gave us more time to ask questions.” Sanchez also reported that she had more time to do homework because of fewer total classes each day.
Sophomore Sophia Creneti agreed: “I get home late from sports and the Green/Gold schedule allowed me to manage my time better since I didn’t have as many classes every day.”
With last year’s schedule returning, new students and freshmen spent the first few weeks of the second interim worrying about which class they were supposed to be in (and how to wrap their head around the homework scheduling). The new schedule made social distancing harder because so many students are scrambling to their classes or going in the wrong directions. On top of that, now we see more students each day as we have more classes.
Additionally, the homework load for students will definitely increase as well. I’ve spoken with various students, and they all agree. With the A/B schedule, because there are less classes each day, there’s simply less homework.
Some say teachers “give twice” the homework on the A/B, but in my experience, that just isn’t true. In my experience, teachers will assign those 20-30 minute homework nightly regardless of the schedule we’re following, so switching back to the old schedule means students will have more homework because we have more classes.
Homework can take a toll on students, and in this difficult time, increasing that load will have more adverse effects on stress levels and mental health.
Although I was very opposed to the new schedule at first, it’s definitely grown on me and I honestly don’t think changing it back is necessary.8
Switch to old schedule will make school easier
While alternating classes on the green and gold schedule had their advantages, the old schedule will help relieve workload in the long run.
Many of my classes in the last week of the first interim saw debates of both students and teachers expressing their thoughts on a reversion to SSES’ original modified block schedule (last year’s schedule). I found myself on the short end of most of these arguments, one of the few students in support of bringing back the old schedule.
But I think there are a few advantages to the old schedule that most students aren’t considering. Overall, most people’s opinions on the change will be based on how it affects their personal class lineup, but I would still implore you to think about a few additional factors.
Many students’ main concern is that their homework load will increase. The old block schedule means that students attend the same class 2-3 days in a row, meaning that multiple teachers can assign homework due the next day. Some students, especially underclassman with little to no familiarity with the old schedule, fear that this may leave them swamped with last-minute assignments.
But based on my experience with our new green/gold schedule, I would expect homework to stay about the same, or maybe even decrease, upon going back to the old schedule. I’m not sure about other classes, but many of my teachers have been assigning double their normal homework every night, with the justification that I have two days to complete said assignments before returning to their class.
This leaves me with two options: do everything the night before it is due, leaving me to complete 2-4 assignments each for 3 classes, or space out my work, completing one assignment for all six classes each night. Either way, I end up doing about 4-6 assignments every night, which is around the same as my workload on the original schedule.
Mr. Forrester said that the change was decided after much feedback from teachers wishing to abandon the new schedule.
Many teachers, especially those in the language department, see the change as helpful for their teaching methods. Mr. Revard, head of the language department, found that the green and gold schedule makes teaching a language to his less-experienced students extremely difficult, as he only sees them 2-3 times a week.
Teachers’ increased familiarity with the old schedule would likely lead to them more efficiently using class time, meaning less wasted time for students. The teachers could then use their extra time to work through out-of-class tasks, leading to students receiving graded assignments quicker.
I realize that students are frustrated by switching schedules just after getting used to the new one, and I especially feel for freshmen who started their time in the upper school on the green and gold schedule and now must change just eight weeks in. But while many are heading into the schedule change with negative expectations, I think an open mind could lead students to realize that the old schedule made our lives easier.2