Leigh students returned to school in August to discover yet another schedule change. This time, the schedule was changed to include more collaboration days – two every other week. The actual collaboration bell schedule hasn’t changed, but some are wondering why students are getting more short days when there was an issue with fulfilling the minutes requirement in the 2013-2014 school year. According to Bell Schedule Committee member and chemistry teacher Leslie Warkentin, the change to embed tutorial in the middle of the school day created excess minutes in the school day, which allowed for more collaboration days. It was also implemented to meet the WASC requirement to “improve collaboration”, which the Bell Schedule Committee interpreted as to increase the amount of collaboration. This change has sparked the discussion of whether the increase in these shorter days are actually beneficial to students or if it puts them further behind in school curriculum.
“It reduced the number of minutes we see our students substantially, and obviously that’s a problem. But we were sort of banking on the idea that we could more effectively use the 75-minutes because in any 95-minute block of time there’s always a little bit of lost time. I personally don’t change anything I do on those 75-minute days. I just try to cut out any downtime to make up for those lost 20 minutes so that it doesn’t adversely affect the students,” said Leslie Warkentin, chemistry teacher.
The monthly pair of collaboration days in past years were a welcome relief from long school weeks, but having them every other week has become hectic and confusing for some students. Some students have mentioned that it has caused difficulties in coordinating their families’ schedules.
“I know that it’s hectic for my parents since I have three other siblings and now all of our schools get out early, making it really frustrating for them to keep track of all our schedules,” said Hannah Rathje, senior.
It affects not only the students’ normal routines but also those of the teachers who now must become accustomed to having 20 minutes less instruction time.
“It’s a change and every time you have a change, you have to make some adjustments. I’m slowly but surely getting used to the frequency of shortened class periods,” said Dorothy Peterson, math teacher.
Less time to learn in class can also translate to more homework.
“We usually have to do a lot of the stuff that we don’t cover in class on our own. This has happened a lot lately; it takes away from our class time, and is just less productive,” said Jasmine Jimenez, senior.
In some ways, collaboration days can be beneficial since they allow students an extra hour to get homework done, study, do college applications, and if nothing else, take a nap. In fact 53% of students polled think that collaboration days have made them more productive. They said that collaboration days allow them more time to get homework done after school and before sports practices, club meetings, or jobs. Many also say that they are overall less busy and less stressed having more collaboration days. However, 40.2% of students said collaboration days have little to no effect on their schedules since their extracurricular activities start earlier but still finish at the regular time.
Whether more collaboration days increase student productivity or not, students should utilize the extra hour they have as best they can, even if it means an hour of relaxing at a time when they would normally be in class. Any extra time can help.