What the Schedule Change Has Done to Students

The schedule for 8th grade students was changed when transitioning between the 17-18 to 18-19 school years. Some of the changes for 8th graders were the loss of clubs, addition of a class on character and hire-ability, and the re-addition of RTI. The following are excerpts from interviews with students effected by these changes.

 

I asked Mia Echols how do you feel about losing clubs and gaining a new class?

She responded, “Welp, we don’t have clubs, but [it] depends what class and clubs. If it was last year’s clubs, the class better be good. Like, tutor or something.”

 

Andrew Thatcher response to the same question was, “I don’t like the new idea that they implemented, which replaced clubs, because it takes away fun, like making rules for ourselves isn’t the best use of the time frame. I would like clubs back.”

 

These views were consistent with the other students I interviewed. The main point they have is that losing clubs removes fun. This is important because fun is a big motivator for students. As school becomes less fun, the less interesting and/or engaging it becomes. Another common thread between the students was, high expectations for the new class. Clubs held a special place in the schedule, being the one period you aren’t graded for. That set the standard that for the new class, which wants to be a full, helpful course, but ends up being mostly a laughable group project every Wednesday. Or as Andrew put it, “Making rules for ourselves isn’t the best use of the time frame.”

 

I asked a couple of students about their opinion on the addition of RTI.

Sanabelle Carter exclaimed, “I HATE RTI! It is useless. Why can’t we just have study hall, which is more useful.”

Garrett Webb was more apathetic in saying, “I think RTI is basically the same as study hall, so I don’t really care.”

Mia’s view on RTI closely resembled Sanabelle’s, with the addition of not knowing when RTI is until five minutes before it starts.

Andrew’s view mirrored Garrett’s, RTI does not really matter because of how similar it is to study hall.

Study hall has always held a unique role, which varied greatly from class to class. In some classes, it could be a completely silent block where work gets done; some classes having students converse over their homework, and some classes being complete chaos. Which version of study hall is ideal varies greatly from student to student. Mia and Sanabelle would most likely want conversations over homework, where Garrett and Andrew would be fine with chaos being the norm.

Lastly, I asked “What is your opinion on outside lunch and lunch in general?”

Mia E responded, “I love outside lunch. It’s nice to talk with my friends, and get help with homework too. I don’t really like inside lunch because I don’t really talk to in my homeroom, so I turned it into a study hall. It would be cool to have indoor lunch, but we could shuffle around and get new people so we could talk to people we know.”

Sanabelle and Garrett responded similarly, generally enjoying outside lunch. Outside lunch has generally been the best time for socialization, but the extremely hot weather has made it marginally less enjoyable. Mia’s idea of a lunch where students can socialize with the friends they want to socialize with, instead of just the people that are in their homeroom.

 

While all of those statements are true, the teachers and school officials may have different views on the schedule and the changes it has brought.

 

I asked Ms. Celia, an 8th grade teacher, what are some advantages you see in adding a new class?”

She justified it in saying, “It is more academic rigor for 8th graders to prepare for high school.”

Ms. Jen, Assistant Principal expanded upon that, saying, “Clubs were not considered instructional time, so now we can give you a grade and it should help boost everybody’s GPA.”

This shows that overall, the teachers want to help the students’ grades, but this may not be the best way to do it. The removal of fun is something many of the students oppose, even with the potential boost to grade.

I asked Ms. Celia how do you feel about RTI?”

Her response was, “RTI is a great opportunity to practice skills that might need refreshing.”

Ms. Jen was more detailed in her response, stating, “[RTI] is part of what public schools are expected to do in 2018. [RTI] helps kids that are struggling get more support during the school day, so they don’t have to stay after school or see a tutor.”

While this is true, RTI can be executed better. One solution could be the ability to let students move from class to class, but this comes with the risk of non-motivated students in need of support not getting any.

Lastly, I asked Ms. Celia, do you have an opinion on outside lunch?”

She responded, saying, “I like outside lunch because it gives the whole grade an opportunity to eat together which normally isn’t an option and I like that 8th grade goes out there twice as a privilege.”

Ms. Jen was more sympathetic to students in saying, “I think it’s a good idea, I just feel awful when its 95º out and you guys are sweating, because nobody wants to eat when it’s that hot. It would be nice if we had a lunchroom.”

Students have always liked outside lunch, but the fact that it can be 95º outside is an issue that would be best solved with a lunchroom. Mia E’s idea of letting the students go to whichever class they want is the best solution without one.

 

Overall, the schedule change has made school better for some and worse for others. A new class has been added to help the GPA of students, RTI has been re-added to help struggling students within the school day, and outside lunch in the uncomfortably hot weather is as bad and good as it has always been.

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