A Schedule for Our Times
What would it look like to build a school schedule that really works for kids? Our innovative new schedule puts the needs of 21st century students at the center of their academic experience.
Stress, Sleep, and Student Health
The expectations on our young people have changed. Many schools strive to offer richer course loads and more elective experiences, and in trying to meet our expectations and feeling the pressure from colleges, students take on heavier loads. All the while, the demands outside of school have grown, too.
With many competing pressures on kids, sleep is the first thing to go. Research shows that on average, high schoolers get about six hours of sleep per night, often less at least one night per week. This should be a wake-up call.
21st Century Learning
Today’s learners are much more likely to be collaborating across networks and long distances, working in diverse teams in a global economy. There is an emerging consensus about what skills kids most need from school: collaboration, creativity, interdisciplinary thinking, synthesis, ethical thinking, empathy, analyzing data, critical thinking, effective communication, and cultural competency. The problem is that our schedules are not designed for that kind of learning.
To build the habit of collaboration, students need the time and space in school to work together on authentic projects.
We need a new model.
A Way Forward
We have crafted more than a new schedule — rather, a new structure of our academic program for the 2018–19 school year, which places the energy and bandwidth of students’ minds at the forefront. We believe this is a major step forward in addressing concerns about student well-being, while at the same time facilitating 21st century learning.
We are building in “mini-term” intensive courses, lasting between one and two weeks. During mini-terms, other classes pause, and students explore one topic in depth with a teacher. It is a chance for students and teachers to dive deep into a subject, do some hands-on work, get off campus, engage in place-based learning, and learn in a new way.
We are excited about the opportunity to put all of this into practice as part of one reform effort and harness the synergy. Most importantly, we are putting the needs of the students first.