Saved by the (new) bell: pilot block schedule reduces workload, students’ stress


by Kshithija Mulam, Kaitlin Hsu, and Maya Valluru

Upper school students entered a month-long trial period in January for a new block bell schedule.

The weekly block schedule consists A, B, C and D days in which class periods begin at 8 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m. A and C days have four hour and 20 minute classes and separate 50 minute lunch periods; B and D days have three classes with a long lunch. Sports practices now start later and at the same time each day. In addition, the original five minute passing periods have been extended to 10 minutes, allowing more students to arrive at classes in a timely manner.

“I’m hearing things like, ‘I’ve been at Harker since forever, and now I’m sleeping at night because my homework’s getting done,” Upper School Division Head Butch Keller said. “Or, ‘It’s really nice to be able to go to the bathroom,’ or ‘It’s really nice to get to class a couple minutes early and talk to my teacher.’”
The new block schedule was instituted to provide a calmer environment for students and faculty and mirrors other local schools’ bell schedules.

Several students find that they are less stressed due to a lighter workload, as they have two nights to complete assignments and longer periods.

“It’s good that we have more time to do homework because even though they’re allowed to assign more homework to us, we have a lot more time,” Viveka Saraiya (9) said.

Other students cited the longer periods as a negative aspect of the new schedule, solely concentrating on the academic lives of students.

“First, if you miss classes, it’s horrible to make up work. Second, a lot of teachers aren’t prepared for the new bell schedule, so the way they schedule their curriculum isn’t enough in order to keep students engaged,” Michael Tseitlin (11) said. “Also, especially in debate and other after school activities, because the meeting times are so spaced out, there’s less free time and less leniency.”

The bell schedule pilot will be extended by two weeks, and bell schedule committees will decide whether to keep the schedule for the rest of the semester or institute it at the beginning of the next academic year.


This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on Jan. 27, 2016