Distanced Learning Gives Students Flexible Schedules
October 20, 2020
What was the most surprising change students have seen to their schedules in this odd and ever-changing year? Some might say being able to sleep an hour later, or the shorter, flexible classes, but many students find it to be the newly created Midterm Projects Week. While this week-long time away from classes was new to all, it was also a solace for many students needing to catch up on assignments, or to simply do something they never have the chance to do during school days.
When distance learning started last spring, student schedules took on a massive change from in-person classes, starting the day at 9 a.m. and ending at around 3 p.m. every day for those without electives, making tutorials a flexible, optional time not requiring attendance on Zoom.
This year brings many changes, including longer school days, shorter classes, mandatory tutorials, a new Advisory block every week, and a week-long break that has been never-before-seen at Eastside. This raises the questions, why were these changes made, and what were they meant to achieve?
While this year’s schedule is starting to resemble the in-person schedules, there are subtle differences that students have had to remember in order to make it to their classes on time. First is that all classes are now 15 minutes shorter, making each class an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes long. This allows students to start school an hour later, end 15 minutes earlier, and have longer breaks in between classes.
“Usually I wake up at around six, and would just be really exhausted throughout the day,” said junior Billy Rosas. “Having that extra hour of just being able to relax for a bit and just take in everything feels pretty nice.”
Another major change was the Advisory block implemented every Friday morning for an average of 80 minutes. While at first, this extra period seemed like a drag and just an extra class when many could have slept in longer, students said they have found Advisory extremely useful.
“I find it really helpful,” said freshman Janelle Gonzalez in a text. “They listen to any problems that you have and help figure things out. I think it’s a really good way to interact with your classmates and the older/younger students at Eastside.”
The teachers also appreciate the importance of Advisory for quality time with students.
“We have some 1:1 meetings, some full group reflections about academics or what is going on in the world,” said English teacher Sarah Kreiner. “We listen to music, we meet in groups of four and talk about mindfulness or what brings us joy, and we played ‘Among Us’ once!”
The newest change was Midterm Project week, a week off of Zoom for students to catch up on missing assignments, missed work, and hours of missed sleep.
“For students, it’s time to take a pause, do a variety of things and choose their own goals for the week,” said Vice Principal Helen Kim. “But it’s also true for teachers, there’s been so much work and revamping of curriculum that this week they will also have their time to catch up for the rest of the semester.”
Many wondered about the reasons behind the daily schedule changes, asking why classes couldn’t continue on the same schedule as when in-person classes were still a thing. This semester moved the schedule a step closer to that, although students still find the new times and the lack of school bells and reminders challenging.
“Separating classes by periods again, like we would in person, allows students to communicate with each other and learn the norms of the class, which would be easier to do in smaller sections,” said Helen. “Students didn’t have set times to talk to teachers, ask for help, or have set times when they’re responsible for doing homework, so we built tutorials back into our schedules.”
Despite the changes and add-ons to the academic schedule, students are productively aiming to continue pushing through and finish the semester off strong.
“Time to reconvene my thoughts and just get it together is really helpful,” said Billy. “Just to get some time and take a break, that’s the whole goal of Mid-Term Project week.”