Middle School Principal's Blog

Learning In Blocks of Time

Posted on December 8, 2016

by Dr. Dwayne Priester on December 8, 2016

"The belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative." - John Dewey

One of the greatest challenges facing middle-level educators, who work within a traditional schedule, is the lack of instruction time necessary to successfully cover the breadth of content within their respective courses. Adding to this concern is a limited amount time for teaching the skills required to make the information learned relevant. As a result, students often have a base of knowledge but are challenged to make meaning of what they have learned.

With this in mind, our middle school has continuously made instructional adjustments and designed alternative schedules. These changes have afforded us the time necessary to improve how we use our allocated teaching blocks. This methodical approach to the current daily schedule has provided our students the most meaningful learning experiences possible given the current constraints the daily schedule. In recent years, it became increasingly apparent that if we were to address the needs of our learners adequately, the current 45-minute daily schedule had to be revised. Although we experienced a modicum of success with the 45-minute blocks of time, the adjustments that we made was a temporary solution and unsustainable.

Understanding the importance of addressing our daily schedule, the middle school faculty and administration spent the past two years in intensive training, ongoing scheduling discussions, reviewing research about the learning needs of middle-level learners and alternatives for a daily schedule. As a result of our collaborative work, the middle school will make the transition to an 80-minute daily block schedule. The new schedule will take effect in August 2017.

The new 80-minute daily schedule will provide us with increased opportunities to address the broad range of challenges and expectations critical to the active growth of our students. Not only will we have more time to cover important content, but as a bonus, our students will also have more time to hone the skills necessary to make the content relevant. This new daily schedule will also provide more opportunities for our students to innovate, work collaboratively, solve unique and disparate problems in a greater way.

We are excited about the potential that the 80-minute daily block schedule will create. We also acknowledge that these changes will require understanding and patience of both our students and teachers. While we understand that new and unfamiliar challenges may arise, we are confident that this a step in the right direction and a huge benefit to our students.