Dear Juniors and Families:
In the spirit of project-based innovation and supporting students on their paths toward postsecondary success, the junior team is excited to launch our action research around a potential schedule modification for the remainder of the semester. Beginning next week on November 3, rather than their usual Wednesday morning core schedule, juniors will have periods 1-4 to manage for themselves in one solid “workblock”: to work on projects and assignments, to go to office hours and work individually with teachers, to schedule appointments (medical, dental, therapy, etc), attend LINK or college meetings, and/or catch up with other logistics of being a busy young human on the precipice of adulthood.
At a project-based school, we have always had to give students substantial “work time” to accomplish the tasks we are asking of them, so actual instructional time will be impacted very little by this change. It will mean, however, that we have less work time during the other four days of the week. By streamlining the time into Wednesday Workblock, we are hoping that students will be able to find more productive, uninterrupted flow in their work time as well as gain self-awareness and time management skills that will set them up to manage large chunks of time in college and beyond.
Although we are overall thrilled to be back to “normal” and recognize that in-person learning is preferable to online learning, last year we noticed benefits to having some extra non-instructional time in the week during our modified hybrid schedule. Many students reported being more productive in their work time without the distractions of peers and social life. Some even discovered about themselves that they are more productive in alternative locations such as coffee shops or the library. For some students, it created more opportunities to work one-on-one with teachers and the Inclusion Department to get the help and support they needed.
Managing time and workload are crucial skills for college and beyond. As a faculty, we are aware that moving to a college campus might inspire us to innovate our schedule a bit in the future. We hope that this pilot gives us important data that could inform positive changes.
To be clear, juniors, WE ARE NOT GIVING YOU WEDNESDAYS OFF! We are streamlining a lot of the work time we already give you into a longer session in the middle of the week. We are creating space in your lives to get things done in an effort to empower you to take ownership of your time as you will need to in college and adult life! We are also hoping that having some flexibility in your schedule will help you achieve better work-life balance as your lives on Earth get busier.
So what does Wednesday look like now?
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON remains unchanged. Students are expected to attend Advisory and XBlock every week, regardless of how they spend their morning.
WEDNESDAY MORNING will look different.
For those who have grades of 75% or above in ALL of their classes (including electives), there will be an option to work off campus on Wednesday mornings, with the expectation that you will join us for an 8:25 Google Meet and complete the required documentation (see “Entry and Exit tickets” below).
- Failure to attend the Google Meet and submit required documentation will result in an unexcused absence and the loss of the privilege to work remotely.
On-campus Work Space:
- All students have the option to work at school in one of the designated work spaces (in the West building: Jessica’s, Steve’s, Sven).
For those whose grades have dropped below 75% in one or more classes, we will require you to join us on campus for your Workblock so that we can support you in your journey back to thriving academically.
- This is a great opportunity to work with teachers, with the Inclusion Department, make appointments with counselors, etc. It could also be a great time to collaborate with peers on project work or other school-related activities.
- Time in the work space will not be for socializing, shenanigans, Tik-Tok, virtual reality sessions, indoor sports, snogging, uncontrollable laughter, or other forms of auditory and visual noise. Library-ish norms will be lovingly and firmly enforced! Breaks and fresh air will be encouraged!
- NOTE: Honors Humanities and Mathematics should expect some mandatory in-person meetings during Wednesday Workblock.
How will attendance be taken?
Attendance will be taken in the on-campus work space at the usual time of 8:25.
Entry and exit “tickets”
In alignment with the Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation, at the beginning of Wednesday Workblock--whether working at school, from home, or at an alternative location--we will ask students to submit a Google Form between 8:30 and 9, letting us know where and how they intend to spend their time that morning.
- Likewise, at the end of the Workblock session we will ask them to report out on their use of time and reflect on their productivity, progress and time management. This second Google Form can be submitted anytime between 11:30 and 1.
- Both forms will be found on Jessica’s Humanities Google Classroom each Wednesday.
THESE FORMS ARE MANDATORY FOR ATTENDANCE! Students working remotely will be marked absent unless both tickets are submitted within the designated times.
Evaluating the pilot
In addition to the weekly reflections, we will collect more formal data near the end of the semester from students, parents, and teachers to evaluate how the Wednesday Workblock is impacting student performance and work/life balance. Meanwhile, the junior team is committed to self-evaluating our informal data throughout the weeks and adapting if necessary. We look forward to seeing what our action research discovers!
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the junior core teachers:
Thank you for working with us on this pilot!