Boston Latin School students have been thrown in a loop by virtual learning, but a few game-changing practices have emerged from this period of crisis. Perhaps the biggest change coming from the shift to remote learning, not counting the Zoom classes themselves, is the new virtual schedule.
With inspiration from this virtual schedule, a “split schedule” in which students attend half of their core academic classes one day, and half the next, should be instituted upon return to normal, in-person learning. This would allow teachers to teach content more effectively, students to navigate their schedules more easily and ease pressure and anxiety in general. The virtual schedule has students attending all of their classes on a designated anchor day and then follows two rotations of “split” days throughout the rest of the week. This cycle has aroused the interest of several teachers and students, as they have appreciated its advantages.
Sanjana Singh (II) recalls the lack of coordination among classes during in-person learning with the normal BLS schedule. Singh says, “I once had six quizzes in one day and then none the next day. Regardless of how hard I studied, I would not have been able to do my best on each of those tests because it is exhausting to take that many.” Having so many assessments in one day would be mitigated by following a split schedule.
The drawbacks of the normal seven-classes-a-day schedule are not limited to tests. “[It was overwhelming to] think about so many subjects in one day,” Singh says, “having the split schedule helps organize what needs to get done each night. I would rather do double the amount of work for each of four classes every other day than have assignments for every class every night.”
With the split schedule, students will remember content more easily since they are concentrating on fewer subjects per day. They can learn new content one day and review that content the following day through homework. This cycle of new content and review is highly beneficial to learning, as it keeps topics fresh in the mind.
The normal BLS schedule does not offer sufficient review and absorption time for most students. A lesson is usually forgotten by the next day, as the teacher has already moved on to the next topic. The learning environment of BLS can improve dramatically with this change; all it takes is a little support from students and faculty.
In fact, there have been efforts in the past to change to the split schedule. Mr. Aaron Osowiecki, a physics teacher, had been pushing for the school to adopt a split schedule even before virtual learning began. He explains how “a few years ago when we started the advisory [block], […] I thought it would be better for students and staff [if] instead of having [everything on] Wednesday, when we had every period and advisory, [we had] three days of every period and then the split schedule between Thursday and Friday, so we would have more time in advisory and then also give teachers a little more time with their students one day each week.”
The split schedule will give Mr. Osowiecki and his fellow teachers a continuous hour and a half block to teach content. Thus, teachers and students can evade their common stress around trying to cram or absorb a whole lesson in 45 minutes. With longer classes, comprehensive in-class activities such as debates and Socratic circles will no longer have to be cut off by the bell.
In order for a new schedule to pass, two-thirds of the faculty must vote for it. Unfortunately, Mr. Osowiecki’s proposal was previously met with a temporary defeat, but he is now trying to revive the discussion of a schedule change, using the momentum from the school’s virtual test run over the last school year. Let’s vote it through this time!