EHHS students and teachers have already experienced their first round of the new rotating 30 minute schedule and have varying opinions on the success and experiences.
Starting on January 23, 2022, 30 extra minutes had been added to a new block every 18 days to ensure teachers and students have more time to improve and catch up after 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each day of the week has a different theme for students and teachers to talk about. These themes include building relationships Monday, literacy Tuesday, numeracy Wednesday, executive functioning Thursday, and club & activities Friday. Teachers use these themes and link it with the subject they are teaching. According to EHHS Woodworking Teacher, Mr. Jared Fernandez stated; “The activities change every day, different topics for different days of the week. Things will change depending on the day. For example, Monday is the day of learning about each other so we do activities related to that.”
These activities were included to ensure strengthening the relationship between students and teachers or students with their peers. Teachers also make sure to use this time to help students that need it. As mentioned by EHHS ESL teacher, Mrs. Michalowski, with the 30 extra minutes added to the first block, has seen some improvement in students' grades. In agreement with Ms. King, EHHS history teacher, stated that “I saw a little bit of progress as far as students talking more with each other. Having more interaction with their peers.” They both agree that the extra 30 minutes did make an impact on some students' grades and knowledge.
In contrast with the above, EHHS Art teacher, Mrs. Parisi thinks that there hasn’t been any improvement yet. Another teacher opinion similar to Mrs. Parisi, EHHS health/physical education teacher Mrs. D’Amico mentioned that “I don’t think there was any improvement because I don’t think the extra 30 tags onto 1st period is necessarily a good thing, we are already on a 90-minute schedule which gives enough time to cover whatever is on health, and 30 minutes extra is too much for both students and teacher.”
In agreement with the above, most students think there weren't any changes or any improvement seen. Longer blocks only make it even more boring for them. They were exhausted and the extra minutes helped distract their attention from work.
Besides the improvement, many teachers also find this beneficial for them and their students. Ms. King stated, “I think it is good because it gives me a little bit of extra time to get to know about the student in the class. We play monopoly games that I brought in or take a break because 115 minutes is really long, so a long break and a bit of fun with their classmates is really good. Some of these students were home last year so they need a connection.” Different from Ms. King, Mrs. Parisi stated: “I see what they are trying to accomplish, but I don't see the result we are looking for. I feel like the 115-minute block, kids are exhausted because it is a long time. I notice during these blocks, kids are tending to seem a little more burnt out. The 30 minutes added to this year is too long.” In agreement with Mrs. Parisi, EHHS English teacher/ESL supporter, Ms. Themis Valsamis stated, “I don't think this was the year to do it, doing it in the middle of the school year was a hard transition for both students and teachers. It would be better in the beginning.” According to Mrs. Valsemis, this is not the right time to add the 30 extra minutes to the block schedule. It was a sudden change and it is surely hard for students to adjust.
Most of the teachers agree that they like the longer first block better than the fourth because they think that adding 30 minutes to the end of the day makes it harder for students to pay attention and engage in the class. Many teachers felt that bBy the end of the day, students were exhausted so a longer fourth block did not help much.
Most teachers like longer first blocks whereas most students like longer fourth blocks. According to EHHS sophomore, Natalie Brown, “I like having a break at the beginning of block four because it is a nice break after a long day of classes before I had to do work in block 4.” Similar to Natalie’s statement and many other students, EHHS junior Dominic Salato prefers an extra 30 minutes on the last block because he has a study hall. He stated, “I have study halls last period so I don’t have to go to a 2-hour class.”
Although most students agree that they like the longer last blocks, there are still some students who like the longer first block. Based on EHHS Junior, Jack Castillo, he prefers block one because it pushes him to learn more and gives him a chance to complete his missing assignment as well as put in the effort in learning. Besides Jack, EHHS Junior Christopher Devlin also agreed that the extra 30 minutes on the first block is better. According to Christopher, “Block one would be better because we can just get it out of the way.”
Despite the difference in thought and feeling, the EHHS school community is still thriving!