Implementing Full-Time Block Schedules Helps Students, Teachers

For 38 weeks a year, students struggle to complete hours of homework each night while juggling sports, clubs and other extracurriculars. They suffer from an extreme homework overload, which is reduced only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the nights before block days.
The school originally had all seven classes every day. Nine years ago, the administration adopted the current schedule as a compromise to please the students and teachers who believed that a block schedule would be advantageous and the teachers who preferred meeting with their students daily.
English teacher Roma Hammel was at the school when the switch was made and helped choose the new schedule.
“Our current schedule was the one with the most consensuses from everybody,” Hammel said.
However, the school environment has changed since the schedule was switched nine years ago. Today, huge pressures are placed on students to take as many AP classes as possible and participate in dozens of extracurriculars. Having all seven periods everyday is just more stress than the average student can handle. A block schedule will decrease the homework, allowing students to take tough classes, get good grades and participate in extracurriculars.
According to a poll conducted by The Talon, 65 percent of students prefer block days over regular days because of the many benefits that they bring. Nearby schools such as Saint Francis and Castilleja have adopted block scheduling at least four days a week, and it is time for LAHS to follow the trend.
“I straight up love block scheduling,” Saint Francis sophomore Matt Biggar said. “[Junior high] was more stressful than high school [without] it, and I’m taking three honors [classes now].”
According to a 2003 study by Duke University, more than two hours of homework a night is detrimental to students. Block scheduling reduces the nightly homework load, as students only have about three classes to focus on each day.
“The amount of homework [we have] is ridiculous,” junior Sarah Loebner said. “It totally puts a strain on family, social [activities] and a healthy life.”
Some claim that the homework load would not decrease with a block schedule, as teachers would have to double homework each night to get through the same amount of material by the end of the year.
“For math, we often do two sections in class a day, but the amount of homework we do for two sections is equal to the amount [LAHS students] do for one [section],” Matt said.
With a block schedule, students are able to learn much more in class each day. The extra time allows teachers to go much more in-depth with their lessons.
Homestead High school is now in its sixth year using the block schedule and it has been a success.
“Having to introduce, get through, and debrief material in 50 minute’s time is challenging … [and] the day is very quick,” said Paula Bassett, assistant principal at Homestead High School. “With the block schedule, we’ve seen it’s a calmer, less rushed environment … and I could delve deeper into the material.”
Many doubt that students can pay attention in ninety-minute periods every day. However, according to Matt, although classes sometimes “drag a bit,” they still “move pretty fast” and he is able to learn a lot.
Students also develop closer relationships with their teachers as they spend more time together talking in class. The teachers have more opportunities to help their students with any problems.
“More students have expressed a preference to me [for] the block schedule,” educational consultant Miriam Bodin said. “It allows the student to have more teacher assistance.”
Better student-teacher relationships cause students to have more respect for their teachers, creating a better classroom environment. Students are much more likely to listen to a teacher they know and respect.
“It’s better because [teachers] better understand you when you need help with something,” junior Anjali Mehta said.
Teachers at schools that use a block schedule have noticed the improved relations with their students.
“Because we could dive into the material a little bit deeper and have richer classroom discussions, I was able to become more familiar with my students,” Bassett said.
Reworking the school’s bell schedule would require a great deal of effort, but there is no doubt that an increased number of block days would be well worth it.