2016-17 Cathedral Schedule Resource Kit
Below is the parent email sent in the spring of 2016 pertaining to the new schedule.
Anticipation has been in the air for the rollout of Cathedral’s 2016-2017 academic schedule and we are pleased to do so now. On multiple occasions, I have witnessed how much of an impact a thoughtfully designed schedule can have on reducing stress, enhancing programs, and increasing effectiveness in teaching and learning. We do so much well at Cathedral, and this new schedule, tailored specifically for our institution, will help us to be even more effective with our use of time and will help provide increased opportunities for varied pedagogical instruction, collaboration, and advising.
The Rationale in Brief:
Fewer Transitions: The schedule was designed with research-based principles in mind. Independent School Management (ISM), a leader in this field, has compelling evidence about how a schedule can affect learning. For instance, multiple sources indicate that when a student moves from class to class there is an average transition time of 12-13 minutes per class for a student to arrive, settle in, get ready to learn, and then prepare to leave class. Limiting the number of transitions, which also reduces passing time, adds more than 60 minutes of more effective time to each day.
Fewer Classes per Day: Limiting the number of classes that meet each day has advantages as well. Reducing the frequency of needing to “change hats” reduces stress and increases learning. The same is true for the evening as well as the school day. If a student currently has homework in 5-6 courses per night, that number will drop to 3-4. The amount of total work might remain the same, but not needing to “shift gears” as frequently will help focus and learning. The number of assessments (e.g., tests, papers, projects) will similarly be reduced each day.
Benefits of Rotating Classes: The effects of rotating when classes meet have also been studied well. Not surprisingly, individual students and teachers naturally have different “sweet spots” in their days when they are more able to be engaged, or be engaging. Rotating the daily schedule helps to ensure that each student and each teacher is able to experience those times in every course.
Time of Day Makes a Difference: Additionally, studies have shown that for certain disciplines, the time of day students study those subjects makes a difference. An Air Force Academy study provided compelling evidence that students learn math and science better at certain times of the day than another. Since we cannot have all of our math and science courses at the same time of day, rotating them makes good sense.
Longer Class Periods Provide Opportunities for Varied Learning: The length of class periods has been an often-debated issue and a tremendous variety of options exist for study. ISM argues that class lengths of less than 40 minutes are too ineffective to be considered “learning days." Beyond that, what works best in each institution often depends upon philosophy and perspective. We have chosen to have each course meet five times in a 7-day cycle, with two of the periods being greater in length than the others. This permits continuity of contact while at the same time providing opportunities for more varied pedagogical techniques that work well in longer periods.
Incorporating Non-Teaching Time: One of the most important features of the new schedule is incorporating non-teaching time into its structure. Currently about one-third of Cathedral’s school days are special schedules with shortened classes. The reasons for these schedules (e.g., masses, assemblies, testing) are important and the new schedule will include these events without needing to shorten class periods. Additionally, more time will be available for counties/advisories, affective education, class meetings, special seminars or guest speakers, club meetings, class meetings, in-depth study, collaboration, and unstructured time.
More Flexibility: With Cathedral’s new schedule, our students will have the benefit of a more flexible schedule, the option for in-depth learning, and the opportunity to learn to make good use of their time – all in a less hectic, less stressful environment.
The academic schedule for 2016-2017 is comprised of eight course sections, permitting students to take the same courses and resources that are available to them now. Over a seven-day cycle, classes will meet five times, for three 50-minute periods and two 80-minute periods. (Since passing time is included in these periods, it is fine to think of these as 45 and 75-minute periods if you like.)
The sequence will be the same for all courses as the semester progresses, that is, 50-80-50-x-50-80-x, even if the starting points are different. Seven of the eight course periods will rotate throughout the days of the cycle. The first period (which we are momentarily calling Alpha) will not rotate and will occur at the beginning of each day for programmatic reasons. Lunch will occur at some point during the longest block in the middle of the day. The use of the FLEX blocks is “flexible” right now for masses, assemblies, advisories, and other activities.
Please note that while the beginning of each day is shown generally to start at 8:00am and the end at 3:20pm, those times, and the lengths of each period, may shift by 5-10 minutes. The basic structure of the schedule is set, but those things might be adjusted.
We recognize that no schedule will have it all. And while it is appropriate to acknowledge the losses due to change, it is important to focus on the gains and positive attributes of the new schedule. Hopefully, the number of advantages that these changes can bring will resonate with you now and in the future.
If you would like to know more, the section for Frequently Asked Questions might be helpful, or you may contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317.968.7469
I appreciate your taking the time to read through this document carefully and for your patience in the design process of the schedule.