NEW PILOT SCHEDULE TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN FALL
By Alexa D'Amato
Now that students have adjusted to the return of a fully in-person, “normal” school year, changes are being made to the daily schedule.
The current schedule has six classes a day in a six day cycle. The classes rotate in a waterfall pattern, meaning they meet at a different time each day of the cycle until they drop out of the cycle for one day. Each class lasts 59 minutes, except for period 6, which is a shorter period but never drops.
The new pilot schedule, which has thus far been distributed to teachers, has a five-day cycle where every class would meet four times a week. Within each week, the class will run at 49 minute classes three times per week, and will meet for one 68 minute class. On Wednesdays, students are dismissed at 1:10, instead of the usual 2:14, to give administrators and teachers enough time for professional development.
One major difference in the new schedule is the addition of the Masco Block, or the M-Block. The M-Block will work in a similar way to the What-I-Need (WIN) Block that existed during pandemic schedules.
A committee started meeting regularly at the end of March to discuss the functions and practicality of potential schedules. The committee consisted of eight administrators, three teachers, and two department heads.
“Ultimately this comes down to it being an administrative decision, but two of the teachers were actually selected by the Masconomet Teachers Association, as representatives from their group,” said Superintendent Michael Harvey. “[These teachers] were a part of the discussion from the first development of the list of priorities,” said Harvey. “They were integral in the discussions and talking about how things would work, and it was a great group actually, having some really deep, philosophical conversations about what we wanted to come out of this.”
The committee saw the importance of teamwork and cooperation.
“It was a very collaborative group. People kind of just shared what they had, so I don’t think it was anything specific that one group was really fighting for, I think we were really collaborative in that process,” said Harvey.
The rest of the teachers were sent the schedule and an accompanying letter, explaining the scheduling committee’s thought process behind the changes. When talk of a new schedule began to get out to students and parents, they immediately had many questions.
“I think some of the questions will be answered when the letter goes out,” said High School Principal Mary Jo Carabatsos. “The committee had a process in place which was to inform faculty, let the faculty have a few days to give feedback, talk to students, and then send it out with the accompanying letter.”
The letter, Carabatsos said, is necessary to understand all of the nuances of the schedule, from why it was changed to how it will work.
“I feel badly that they didn’t have [the letter] because I think it’s created angst and anxiety for students, when it really shouldn’t have,” said Carabatsos.
Teachers gave feedback and asked questions shortly after they were sent the schedule, and Carabatsos met with the Student Council to hear their thoughts. The Student Council posted a photo of the schedule on their Instagram, with a message box asking students to type their questions or thoughts.
A major concern of the students’ that the Student Council discovered was the concern over scheduling help during M-Block. Unlike after-school help, students will have to sign-up to go to a teacher’s classroom to receive extra help. After school help will still be available on certain days as well, but students expressed worry that signing up for a teacher’s M-Block on Monday without knowing what will happen in class later in the week is “unrealistic.”
Another question students have is about the rotation of classes. Periods 1, 2, 3, and 4 will rotate in the morning, while periods 4, 5, 6, and 7 will rotate in the afternoon. According to Harvey, not using a waterfall rotation will allow more students flexibility, including the ability to participate in dual enrollment, where they are able to take classes at a nearby community college. Students can go in for their class in the morning or in the afternoon, then have the opposite time available for their class at a community college.
Harvey believes that the new rotation will open more doors for students.
“I think internship is a really great program here, and having a schedule where a student could come into school for maybe their first three or four classes, and have those all be done earlier in the day, would allow them to go out and do an internship earlier in their senior year, or even before that, so that they can do more things,” said Harvey. “Right now, it’s not possible because it’s predictable, but it’s really not regular enough that you know what time a class is going to meet. I think those are some things we’re interested in looking at and figuring out how they will work.”
While teachers, students, and administrators work together to fix any problems, Carabatsos and Harvey both want students and parents to know that there is no such thing as a perfect schedule.
“There's always going to be something that’s a positive or a negative to it, and those things are always a series of trade-offs, so we want to prioritize some things, and you can’t always get everything that you always want in it,” said Harvey. “If there was a perfect schedule, we’d all be doing it across the country and it’s just not the case.”
Both Carabatsos and Harvey are open to hearing from students.
“I’m always open to meeting with students, and talking to them, and getting feedback, even if that feedback can’t necessarily mean that we’re going to change it significantly,” said Carabatsos. “I think that the commitment of that group is to continue to meet, to live in that schedule, and get feedback. Once we’ve lived in it for a bit this fall, and if we feel the need to make a shift or do something, then we’ll do that, if we feel it’s in the best interest of students at that time.”
For now, the plan is to enter the 2022-2023 school year with the new pilot schedule, then adjust as necessary after a few months.