Associate Head of School John King and Head of the Middle School Rachel Rodriguez introduced the new schedule – a product of nearly a year of interviews, surveys, research and analysis with educational consultants – during two sessions for parents in Swenson Hall on May 8. The work demonstrates the school’s commitment to enhancing all of its programs through its REinventing Excellence campaign.
“It’s about this evolution in education from content to skills,” King said during the morning session. “With education changing, it made us realize we had to think differently about how we organize the school day. We expect to see deeper, more engaged learning, and there will be increased opportunities for both collaboration and differentiation.”
Some elements of the schedule will not change: students will still enroll in eight core classes, and the academic expectations will remain high. The start and end times for each day, including early-dismissal Wednesdays and late-start Fridays, will not change. Under the new MS plan, students will have their core classes at different times of the day, and not on every school day. Students will begin and end each day in advisory. Class periods will increase from 37-42 minutes to 70 minutes. Students will have built-in time each day to seek out help from their teachers.
Daily community time – through advisories, all-school assemblies, club time or other community events – will represent a core component of the new schedule. It will also provide a vehicle for RE to introduce a new social, emotional and learning curriculum as part of the advisory program.
“The new schedule,” Rodriguez said, “is about giving students and our faculty what they need to be successful.”
With several years of success implementing a modified block schedule at the Upper School, the move to longer class periods in the Middle School schedule makes sense. Although the schedules on the two campuses will differ, daily advisory meetings, longer class periods for deeper, more process-orientated learning, and regular, dedicated time for the student body to meet together for enrichment programs will be common elements in both schedules.
Schedules for each day and an overview of both schedules will be posted on the myCOMPASS calendar and Resources page at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. The slide deck from the presentation given by King and Rodriguez is available here