Show me how you use your time, and I will show you what you value.
Historically, efficient and maximum use of classrooms was what drove school schedules. It wasn’t about student learning; it was about making sure two classes weren’t in Room 23 at the same time. In the last 50 years, school schedules have instead focused on student learning. Accordingly, as our understanding and knowledge of student learning continues to evolve, so should school schedules...even if Room 23 has been in the same place the whole time.
A hallmark of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes is our tremendous faculty. Their expertise and experience keep us focused on the student experience and how the program is best delivered. Over two years ago we began the process to review our schedule and be sure it still had students and how they learn best at its center. This has been a massive JK-12, school-wide initiative that affirmed much of what we were doing brilliantly as well as let us build and capitalize on that to reallocate our time to reflect our values and our approach to education.
So, how will that look next year for our youngest Saints in Lower School? Just a very few highlights of this exciting initiative include:
Fewer transitions: We can teach more and our students can learn more if we’re moving to another room or building fewer times in the day and if students are transitioning between subjects less frequently. That re-captured time lets us take a “deeper dive” with students to wrestle with a new idea or practice a new skill. And it takes time from learning to pack up our youngest students and then get them settled elsewhere. Fewer transitions mean less packing and settling and more learning.
Brain breaks: Imagine at work when you go from one meeting to another to another without a break. Your head hurts by lunch. So, too, when students move from class to class to class. Time, space and opportunity to be with friends, to be outside and to take needed breaks results in healthier, more active brains, ready for more learning. Moving from a science experiment to discussing a book goes smoother with a thoughtful pause in between.
Making connections: Much like a company relies on the interdependence of research, product development, revenue projection and marketing to reach goals, our students need to understand the connections and interdependence of their studies and the skills they are building to reach their learning goals. Is it any wonder that strong music students are often also strong mathematicians and strong second language learners? All are based on the application of formulas! Our world is interconnected; so must be our education.
Community The first thing a young child often sees in the morning is the smile of a family member waking them up and the last thing they see is that same loving face as they drift off to sleep. Similarly, school days will start and end in the intimacy and comfort of the homeroom community, and the care of the homeroom teacher who’ll start and end each day in that community of young Saints.
This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We welcome the opportunity to answer questions and speak more about our new schedule. We’re confident when you see how we’ve put together a day at the Lower School of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes that you will understand clearly what we value and what we believe about education.
p.s. The Washington Post recently published an article, Why students shouldn’t be forced to spend so much time sitting at desks in class