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The New Schedule At The Upper School

By Carolina ’21

As of Fall 2020, Harvard Westlake Upper School has implemented a new schedule based on a block system. 

In prior years, each day’s schedule consisted of six or seven 45 minute classes. Under the new block schedule, we have three or four 75 minute classes per day. Since each class now meets every other day, students have two nights to complete their homework assignments. Personally, I really enjoy having fewer, longer classes because the 75 minute blocks allow teachers to dive deeper into the material with more extensive discussions.  I also like having to prepare for just three classes each night rather than rushing to complete multiple assignments for six classes.  Although 75 minutes may seem much longer and more difficult to stay focused than 45 minutes, I have personally found the transition to be easy since teachers are keeping discussions extremely engaging.  Classes consist of discussion, worksheets, and breakout sessions on Zoom.  I find the variation really enjoyable because you get a little bit of everything from partner work to individual assignments.

The new schedule also incorporates more opportunities for students to meet with their teachers.  The prior schedule only allowed 5-minute passing periods.  Under the new schedule, we have 15 minutes which allows us to stay after class and ask teachers clarifying questions if necessary. Teachers are also available to meet before school, after school, during other grade’s class meetings, lunch, or during a mutually free block period.  This 15-minute break has been especially beneficial while we’ve been online since it gives students a break from staring at a computer screen. Once we return to campus, there will be time to grab a snack or quickly review with a friend before going to the next class.  I have been able to meet with my teachers very frequently and never found it challenging to find matching free time. 

Another feature of the new schedule is the addition of one late start day.  Every “Day 3” of the six-day cycle begins later at 10am. This change will allow professional development to take place in the morning when faculty, staff and coaches are all available, and will allow students to either sleep longer or catch up on homework.

Instead of having all school assembly once a week, the new schedule includes a 50 minute “Community Flex Time” on every “Day 5” of the six-day cycle. The goal of this time is to provide a time for the community to come together and evoke more interaction between students amongst different grade levels.  This time may also be used to bring in interesting speakers. For example, on September 18th, Wes Moore, an American author and social entrepreneur, will come to speak to all students. 

This year, upper school students are also allowed to take a directed study course which meets twice per cycle for 45 minutes.  This class is more of an elective style course and dives deeply into specific types of material.  For example, this year there is a popular elective called ‘The Election’ which covers the Presidential election. 

Harvard Westlake has been beyond helpful in making the transition to the new schedule and I am grateful I get to enjoy the changes!

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Tags: , Last modified: September 10, 2020