This past week, MHS students filtered into classrooms and stuffed heavy piles of textbooks into lockers in anticipation of the 2012-2013 school year. However, this September introduced significantly more “new” aspects of school life than the generic unfamiliar courses and teachers. The students and faculty of MHS are experiencing the first week of a rotating structure of class scheduling, referred to as Block Scheduling. This system, utilized in various other schools throughout the state of New Jersey and the nation, entails elongated 60-minute class periods. As a result, a particular subject is conducted four days of the week rather than the customary five.
The revision in the scheduling process theoretically stimulates the learning process by eliminating the monotony of an identical class schedule every day of the week. For example, an English-oriented student may begin his days in a disgruntled manner because he begins his mornings with Algebra. However, the employment of Block Scheduling allows the student to look forward to his mornings on the days when his English Literature class rotates into the first period slot, or his Algebra class drops altogether. Furthermore, Block Scheduling works to promote healthy study habits by allowing an extended period of time for study halls in which students have the opportunity to seek assistance from their teachers.
Though it is possible that the benefits of this scheduling create a more attentive class setting, the modification also leads to complications. Assigning a single test day for multiple class periods of a certain course poses a problem for teachers. Because various periods are lost on different days of the week, assigning one designated test day becomes increasingly difficult. Additionally, Block Scheduling requires all MHS students to attend a universal lunch period, prompting a desperate search for a vacant location to eat during the allotted 45 minutes. Alternative areas have been made available to students during this time, including the Auxiliary Gymnasium should the cafeteria become overcrowded. In addition to this excess space, it is the expectation of the school administration that the seniors choosing to eat lunch at a venue outside of MHS will reduce congestion during the lunch period.
It is impossible to make a judgment about the success of the new scheduling structure because it has been functioning for such a brief period of time. However, the success of the program in other schools assures MHS that minor flaws in the scheduling process will be repaired, and that the students and faculty will be able to embrace the advantages of Block Scheduling.