New Schedule Information
In the 2018-19 school year, St. Andrew's will begin using a new daily academic schedule. The new schedule format is the result of more than two years of work and study on the issue that has included faculty and student feedback sessions and research visits to peer institutions.
What are the goals of this schedule redesign?
In redesigning the daily academic schedule, we hope to achieve the following:
- Increased, uniform class lengths that allows time for student engagement, immersion, focus, and deep learning, and that makes space for the kind of teaching we want to do (labs, collaboration, problem solving, project-based learning, etc.).
- More course choices for students, through the offering of semester-long elective courses.
- Built-in time for faculty to engage in regular and sustained collaboration and professional development.
- Through the rotation of classes and reimagined Saturdays, fewer class cancellations overall and no serial class cancellations.
- A more humane daily and weekly schedule, with fewer transitions in the day. The new schedule contains more breaks, and more time for club and individual meetings with teachers.
- A productive and sustainable pace that enables both students and faculty to meet their high expectations for themselves and for each other.
How will the new class schedule work?
In our new class schedule, there are four class periods per day, each one hour and fifteen minutes long. Each of a student's classes will be assigned to one of seven “blocks” lettered A through G. The blocks will rotate in letter order through the four daily class periods, with the cycle starting over after G Block; we achieve four rotations of the A-G cycle in seven days. Students will always attend their courses in block letter order; the blocks are not fixed to individual class periods. This means that each academic day and week will look slightly different in terms of the times of day students attend classes, but all classes will meet for four class periods every seven days. Students only have to remember the order of their blocks, and the course they took in the previous class period, to know where they need to go in the next class period. Classes will no longer be held on Saturdays, but a chunk of Saturday morning is reserved for special events, workshops, campus projects, and community service opportunities. Please review our sample semester-long student schedules designed to give you a sense of how the blocks will flow and your week will look.
What are the teaching and learning opportunities this design fosters?
Immersion and depth, through sustained thinking and work, are prioritized here with longer blocks of class time, allowing for teaching methods many of us are already practicing, such as collaborative projects, labs, and exhibitions. Research supports the effectiveness of immersion over frequency, for learning and retention of material as well as for student wellness and balance. Further, breaks, open time, and time for reflection are essential for consolidating learning. In our new schedule, our students are not asked to “shift” as many times in their day, and are given the time to think deeply and work for sustained amounts of time. Breaks and open time also give more time for teachers to meet with students, and to have weekly time for professional collaboration and development.
How are faculty thinking about and preparing for teaching in the new schedule?
As a faculty, we are working to identify the best practices for teaching 75-minute periods. Dean of Teaching & Learning Elizabeth Roach is heading up this work, in partnership with Department Chairs. Teachers and departments have also been revising current courses and designing new semester courses, all of which can be reviewed in our course catalog.
What will we do with Saturdays?
We already use many Saturday mornings for all-School special events such as Diversity Program speakers and workshops, Women's Network speakers and workshops, Parents Weekend, Arts Weekend, Grandparents Day, and Special Olympics events. Many students also have all-day sports commitments on Saturday, such as cross-country meets, crew regattas, and wrestling tournaments. Finally, many Saturday mornings are given over to standardized testing (SATs, ACTs, AP exams, etc.).
Associate Head of School Will Speers is heading up the planning for new options for Saturday time. We are exploring ideas such as mini-courses, specialized academic days such as arts prep day or "STEM Saturdays," and space for exam review time, faculty office hours, and test prep courses.
What is our launch timeline for the new schedule?
- Preliminary, first-round student course selection in January and February.
- Continued planning around exact times of breaks and class periods.
- Planning for Saturday programming.
- Confirm student course selections.
- Ongoing detailed updates to School community and development of calendars and materials.
- New schedule begins!