Having a strict schedule is a crucial part of being successful. Schedules help us stay on task and get into a habit. When it came to making schedules for this year’s remote learning classes, district teams and administrators were challenged to make a schedule that balanced both synchronous and asynchronous work time. It was important to make sure that their students weren’t in an unhealthy position when it came to screen time on a daily basis. It was also important to make sure students had time in between classes to take a break and prepare mentally for their next task. These schedules differ from district to district. Some aspects of these schedules are seen to be very helpful while others are not working at all.
To get a further understanding, I contacted a student from Springfield Renaissance School and asked her several questions regarding her schedule and what she thought was working well in her school. Arilyn Kane is a senior achieving High Honors. During the interview I asked Arilyn to briefly describe her schedule and she responded by saying, “On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I start school with ‘crew’ and then I have 4 synchronous blocks that are each 50 minutes long with 10 minutes breaks in between. I also have an asynchronous block that is also 50 minutes long and changes time each day depending on which class is asynchronous that day.” On Wednesdays her school has a full asynchronous day. She says that she really likes this aspect of a full asynchronous day because it gives her a mental break while not on a Zoom call for the day.
At Holyoke High School the schedule is very distinct. The students at HHS start off their day with a ten minute block known as homeroom. Students then start their first academic block which lasts 50 minutes. They have three more blocks after this with 10 minute breaks in between each class which students usually use to get a snack or get ready for the next class. After their classes are over they then have asynchronous time for an hour and a half. During this time students can attend office hours or work on their “homework”/complete classwork. Unlike Springfield Renaissance School, Holyoke High School holds Zoom meetings 5 days a week. Students have complained that it is too much screen time and that they have headaches and sore eyesight after they finish their classes. The class officers at HHS have spoken to the administration about having a mental health day where they do not have to worry about assignments or Zoom calls. They feel like they need time to make sure that they are in a healthy state of mind.
All things considered, no matter where you go there will be aspects of academic schedules that can be improved. The hope is that Holyoke High School can find a way to take in consideration the mental health of their students during these tough times. It is also necessary to understand that this sort of education has never been done before at either of the high schools mentioned. There will always be bumps in the road, but it is the job of the students to reach out and seek change if they want to make a difference.