New schedule may be a turn for the best

By on December 10, 2010

by Julia Angelotti, Kaneland Krier Editor
Motivation, determination and drive.

Those three words all have around the same dictionary definition: what allows you to strive towards a goal. And helping the students who lack that internal drive succeed anyway is part of the goal in the proposed schedule. Curriculum Coordinator Erika Schlichter said the overall hope for all students is to increase rigor, since with more time to cover subjects, it will allow for better depth in teaching.

But another piece of it revolves around the study hall that will be opposite lunch.

“There’s no specific, set-in-stone schedule yet. Right now the options allow for a flexible study hall during lunch, as well as other times throughout the day,” Schlichter said.

At first I was completely against switching out of the four-block schedule. The thought of not being able to sleep in an extra 45 minutes every day, since there would be no STEN, was beyond devastating. Not being able to double up on math and a foreign language were high up on my do-not-like list as well.

But the more I hear administration discuss the change, the more I realize it will strongly affect motivation and the effort that students put into school work. The eventual vision–which probably won’t be fully implemented by 2012-2013, but is something Kaneland will be working toward for awhile–is that it will be nearly impossible for students to have missing work.

The district has been studying what’s called the DuFours model, where, among other things, students who are missing work or who are doing poorly in a class are put into supervised study halls where they can receive extra help or where someone will help them make sure their work is completed. Essentially, one of the goals is to make sure there are no zeros in a teacher’s gradebook, and that students don’t have the choice to slack off–they’ll do the work no matter what.

“We want to form a sequential arc that’s continuous, with more time in classes throughout the entire year, and multiple options for study halls that will allow students to focus on the areas that they need help with,” Schlichter said.

That’s actually a really good idea, now that I finally got to sit down and talk with administrators about what’s going on. In my own life, I’ve learned that if you want something, you have to work for it.

Procrastination could be my middle name—right behind sarcasm. I’ve mastered how to finish flash cards five minutes before class, and cleaning my room (including sorting the closet that’s nearly impossible to open because I have clothes jammed everywhere) just hours before company arrives. But I get good grades and succeed because studying for a big test or making sure that I fully comprehend material that is crucial to know has never been on the list of things I avoid. Those kids who fall asleep during class or who fill in the pretty designs in Scantron bubbles shouldn’t be allowed to slack off. And the new schedule will hopefully move toward changing that, even if some of those people need to be dragged along. And though the change will no longer allow students to double up on classes, shorter class periods year-round will probably be beneficial.

We all know the feeling of glancing at the clock and seeing only five minutes have passed; it’s easier to pay attention in a short class time, and it will allow for students to be more focused in class and understand the material better.

Sure, the students who want to do well will. But if you are one of those students who’s starting to realize college is right around the corner and it’s time to stop filling in the Scantron bubbles to form a design, it’s time to step up.

“The majority of students have been working awfully hard, and we want to be able to help [all] students be successful, which can help with them being internally motivated,” Schlichter said.

Good plan.