Flexible scheduling a concern

By Dr. Sonya Rogers
Contributing Writer
Posted 5/15/07

As a parent, are you aware of what your child experiences during a typical school day? Do you really know how many subjects he or she is taught, what assignments are scored for a grade, and who actually teaches your child?

There is much more to …

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Flexible scheduling a concern

Posted

As a parent, are you aware of what your child experiences during a typical school day? Do you really know how many subjects he or she is taught, what assignments are scored for a grade, and who actually teaches your child?

There is much more to gaining an education than simply sitting in a desk and taking notes. Hands-on activities are usually the most meaningful lessons for students.

Great speakers find a way to motivate and “teach” concepts that stick.

Many students, unfortunately, will comment that P.E. and break are their favorite times of the day. If you haven’t already, take the time to inquire as to what is enriching academically and socially for your child during the school day and what changes he or she thinks should be made to make the day more successful.

One factor that is focused on in schools today is scheduling procedures. Many schools are attempting to create a schedule that is the most beneficial for a diverse group of students.

One method being considered is ‘flexible scheduling.” This creates an organizational structure that supports meaningful academic and social relationships. It is imperative that instructional time and format are complimentary to each other when focusing on the learning needs of students. The design of an extended instructional period is intended to enhance more diverse teaching and learning activities.

The structure of the school schedule influences the developmental needs of students, and allows schools to optimize time, space, staff and facilities to add variety to curriculum offerings and teaching strategies. By allowing more instructional time, less time is spent in transition of classes. Therefore, teachers are provided more time to make decisions and control the learning environment.

Students always benefit from more engagement in project-based learning and interdisciplinary activities. With large blocks of time to instruct, educators can better facilitate involvement and promote skill application, interpersonal relations and decision-making skills.

A few common models that have been utilized in area schools are block scheduling, alternate day classes, rotating schedules, and dropped scheduling.

Most middle schools have been hesitant in trying new action plans. However, within the last two decades, schools have shown an increased trend in catering to flexibility.

According to Gregory Meeks and Terry Stepka, a study was conducted revealing that middle-level principals in Arkansas felt as though flexible scheduling should be a mandatory staff development option for faculty members. Also, teachers who have worked with flexible schedules found favor in using a variety of instructional strategies and covered less content in greater depth.

The greatest aspect of instructional flexibility is linked to increased opportunities for student reflection, extended opportunities for critical and creative thinking of concepts, and cooperative learning experiences.

Research indicates that individual schools that have incorporated a plan for flexible scheduling have reported a decrease in disciplinary problems among middle school students. Yet, an increase was noted for collaboration among teachers on teaching teams.

Flexible scheduling provides educators with greater flexibility in planning, it fosters interdisciplinary teaching and it provides a plethora of opportunities for serving the needs of students.