8:44 AM EST, November 12, 2013
I can see good things coming from the new fluctuating schedule for students in the coming year. Decades ago, in the fall of 1972, I entered the seventh grade at Ridgely Junior High (yes, it was not a middle school back then and taught grades seven, eight and nine). The teachers at the school were trying an experimental schedule for just the three morning periods prior to lunch. The three, 50-minute classes were changed to five, 30-minute "modules" that were exchanged among the teachers to extend lessons beyond the norm for in-depth lessons and exploratory learning. It also allowed for time reduction where it seemed to benefit students by reducing boredom in some subjects.
The curriculum was just for the subjects of English, science and social studies. Most time schedules consisted of two to three modules (with total of 60 to 90 minutes) and there did not seem to be, from the students perspective, much conflict in scheduling. Only one time did any class stand out (five straight mods of English) as torture!
I have more long-term memories of those classes than any other year, which I credit to the creative scheduling of teachers. The changes in time immersion to subject matter and repetition of certain elements where needed are fundamental building blocks of an improving educational process.
The present teachers will get used to the flexibility of having short and long classes and will come to appreciate the freedom it allows. Now I challenge the system to allow teachers this freedom to expand the minds of our children so they can retain the knowledge for over 40 years and stop teaching for the test.