Long block days are a recent change to BC High’s schedule. As you all know, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, classes are extended to last an hour and twenty minutes. The student body is even granted about an hour to have to ourselves every Wednesday. With this change in the schedule, I decided to interview a number of people to get their opinion on it.
One student, Cole Farrell ’22, said, “It can be quite exasperating on online days.” He added that he disliked the new schedule because he has no free period this semester. I agree, and I think it can be quite tiring without a free period. It feels like you cannot get a break. The only break you have are the few minutes between classes, between third and fourth period. I was surprised about his opinion on those breaks. He said that “The ten minutes is a waste of time.” I was surprised because I thought that he would enjoy the breath of fresh air. I especially enjoy it at home because I can escape the room I do my schoolwork in and take a break from staring at the screen. We then spoke about how we use the extra time on Wednesdays. Cole said, “I sleep in a bit more when remote, but not as much on in-school days.”
Next, I spoke with Victor Rocha ’24 and he gave me a very honest answer on whether he liked long block days. He agreed with Cole that it can be tough on online days, and that free period is a relief. “The classes are long, but so is free period,” he said. It is nice, especially at home when you are not limited to the building. He went on to say that he only dislikes his classes when the material gets boring.
I was also surprised to hear his opinion on the ten minute break between lunch block and last period. He told me that “There’s not much you can do with that break.” I was surprised that neither Cole or Victor liked the 10 minute break. I agree that it is not very useful in school, but I like the break at home.
When it comes to in-class learning versus remote learning, most agree that long block days go by slower when you are remote. I have not only heard this from the two students I interviewed, but also from other students I have talked to in the past few months.
I also asked a couple of teachers for their opinions on the new long block schedule. One teacher was Mr. Clancy, and he told me that he enjoys long block days because students have more time to work on assignments and work in groups. He told me that he has not assigned as much homework on long block days. “I’ve been trying to cut back on homework this year, especially considering how long the days can be when you are staring at a screen at home,” he said. He also told me that he has not seen many students using the time to go in for extra help.
Then, I asked Mr. Quealy about his opinion on the long blocks, who said he was surprisingly excited about the long block schedule because he saw it as an opportunity to do more activities in class. For example, he started doing activities in class such as sustained reading time, discussion posts and socratic seminars. Although the socratic seminars during class cause more homework, the extra time available during class allows the students to start on their homework, and he said that he tried to go easy on the amount of homework he assigns. He elaborated that it might be stressful on students to do homework, so he believes it can be a struggle as a teacher to assign homework. Both teachers I talked with told me that not as many students have came in for extra help as they would have liked.
After talking with these people, a few of their responses surprised me. I was especially surprised with the students’ views on the 10 minute break between the lunch block and last period. I was also surprised that not many people have gone in for extra help early on Wednesdays.
However, I did expect that students get up a bit later than normal in the morning. I think that it is a good opportunity to catch up on sleep. Personally, I only sleep in on online days because I catch the train at the same time on Wednesdays as the rest of the week. If I did not, I am sure I would use the extra time to sleep in. I’m glad that there is less homework for some people as it is a nice break and also a good opportunity to catch up with something or have some free time.
As I see it, if the purpose of the long block was to help complete more work and teach more material, then long blocks have done their job.