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Adjustments to the Block Schedule

By Grace ’22

Picture this: you’re new to the Upper School, and classes have almost doubled in length. You don’t know if specific teachers give you breaks, or whether or not those five precious minutes are enough to run to the cafeteria for a snack. You feel weird about grabbing your phone from the caddy (because what if it’s not technically allowed yet?) and about sitting still for so long (how come that darn minute hand isn’t moving yet?). But, you’re in high school now, and the Upper School’s recent shift to block scheduling requires you to make some changes!

Initially, concerns were voiced about the length of class periods; to combat that, teachers have started to give five or ten minutes within the block to rest, get food, or use the bathroom. This provides students with a chance to leave the room without missing material, as well as allow them to decompress from otherwise long lectures and lessons. Some students will stay in the room and reread the last few notes, taking time to absorb the material they otherwise may not have had the chance to do. Others alleviate the lunch rush by eating something during these spaces. 

Additionally, the switch between daily classes for every subject and having a class every other day is a stark one. The relief of not needing to do that worksheet the night it’s assigned, having a “three-day weekend” from whatever classes fall on that Thursday, and needing to switch from subject to subject eight times daily is quite a calming feeling. It’s a huge adjustment regarding joining the Upper School community; being able to stomach 75-minute long classes will be your key to high school success.

So whether or not you take that coveted 45-minute Directed Study or actually try to do homework during that first 15-minute daily break, the block schedule will become your friend. Time management, as always, is the key to success at Harvard-Westlake, and while the long class period may seem never-ending, that is hardly ever the case later in the year. Many students that originally disliked it have flipped their views on its intention; while it does not explicitly eliminate homework nor do a fantastic job of keeping everyone focused, the block schedule is an interesting and new Harvard-Westlake mechanism aiming to help students learn and find balance.

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Tags: , , Last modified: October 21, 2021