After mid-winter break, Gibbons will launch the first of two bell schedule modification pilot programs with a single goal in mind: assessing the most effective way to respond to our strategic planning initiatives and to advance next level learning skills.
Exploring a change to our current eight periods a day is part of the school’s assessment of a new master schedule, sparked by the 2015 strategic planning process, noted Business Educator Dr. Rick Kruska, who is also a member of the Master Schedule Exploration & Assessment Committee. Eighteen months ago, educators began looking at options to an alternate bell schedule and, “this pilot is part of the process of discovery,” he said, adding that its goal is threefold:
1. Create a better academic balance for students and educators to reduce their class load from eight periods per day.
2. Allow for additional electives for students to explore their passions and include some extended periods so educators may delve deeper into content area through activities that are unable to take place in our 40/45-minute classes.
3. Continue and enhance our commitment to our college prep curriculum.
The first pilot, February 26 – March 9, creates a Tuesday/Thursday model with some 80-minute classes and later start times on those days. The other days follow the current schedule. The second, to be piloted March 13-28, has later start times every day except Wednesday, and creates 75-minute classes for periods 1,2,3,7, and 8. These classes rotate so they meet three times a week, maintaining the comparable instructional minutes for the week as would be for periods 4-6. The later start times in both pilots will provide opportunities for educators and students to develop creative options for academic enrichment and/or remediation, professional collaboration, as well as extra-curricular options.
Each pilot provides a way of scheduling class time “to give both educators and students the opportunity to experience what it might be like to have longer class periods, and have a schedule where you may not have every class every day,” said Science Educator Sarah Kuszaj ’95, who is co-chair of the Master Schedule Exploration & Assessment Committee. “Having later starts built in also provides the opportunity for activities to take place before school and not interfere with after school responsibilities.”
Conducting the pilots in February and March is ideal, she added. “Educators have had time to prepare for the changes and receive professional development prior to the start of the new schedules,” she explained. “Students also have had time to prepare and are well established in their classes, especially ones that run for only one semester.”
What comes after testing the pilots? Both Kuszaj and Kruska said there will be another round of assessment and evaluation, seeking input once again from students, parents, and educators.
“It is unlikely that either of the two pilots will become the ‘final’ schedule, but components that prove valuable will create a ‘Gibbons schedule’ especially designed for the benefit of the students and educators,” Kruska said and Kuszaj agreed. “This process is under the umbrella of our vision and mission of faith, service, and leadership, as well as the commitment of continuing our college prep curriculum program to prepare our students for success in college.”