Thinking outside the schedule

Garrett Monfre, Managing Staff Artist

Garrett Monfre, Managing Staff Artist

Rahul Bhatia, Staff Writer

Scheduling, a seemingly mundane topic, could soon become an important issue as the faculty and administration have been assessing this core element of our experience at Princeton Day School for months. The discussion about changes to the structure of our schedules comes near the 10th birthday of our current schedule. The concerns brought up by faculty members regarding time between classes, cross- divisionaloverlap,theimpact of assemblies and holidays, and the need for an early morning break in the Upper School, led to the creation of a new committee to discuss and choose a new schedule format at PDS.

The current PDS schedule is a five-day schedule, meaning that the classes line up perfectly with the days of the week. Since many school holidays usually occur on Mondays or Fridays, the classes meeting on those days often miss more classes, and therefore cannot cover as much material. To solve this issue, the committee is looking into schedules on a seven or ten day rotation. This will help evenly distribute the amount of class time regardless of such events.

Another possible change between our current schedule and the models being considered is the length of each class period. Currently, all of the periods in the Upper School are 50 minutes long. In the new schedule, the lengthmaybeextendedto70 minutes. This shift will have many implications. First, teachers will not be able to simply lecture for an entire period, a practice that often leads to students becoming inattentive. Instead, with this change, teachers and students will need to be trained to teach and learn more interactively. This will also mean that fewer classes will be able to meet in one day, therefore reducing the amount of homework a student would need to complete for the following day. The lengthening of classes also seems to go hand-in-hand with the cognitive shifts that need to occur when students switch from one class to another. These mental transitions reduce the amount of learning that can occur in a class. Longer class times will allow for significant productive instructional time to occur even with the time taken by such mental shifts.

The next possible major change to our current schedule may include the introduction of a school- wide break, about two and a half hours into the school day. This break, which would last 30 minutes, would allow students to meet with a teacher, go outside for some fresh air, or get a quick snack. The break could also serve as time for an assembly or extra class meeting, once again reducing the number of classes missed due to an assembly or special event. This break would also help students stay focused throughout the morning.

It is important to remember that all of these changes are still being evaluated and no final decisions have been made at this time. The proposed implementation for a new schedule will most likely be in the 2017- 2018 school year, but it is possible it could begin next fall. Once the changes being considered are finally made, they will serve PDS students for many years to come.