In response to the 11/29/11 post, “So What is Your Scheduling Alternative,” LYS Principals are asking: SC, I would like to know more about the trimester schedule. And Where can I find more information on scheduling? SC Response Here are some critical facts you should know about trimesters and other schedules. 1. The eight period and nine period days only work on paper. It is a nightmare for students, teachers and instruction. For students, they have to keep up with content, homework and studying in eight to nine courses each day. Honestly, I can count on one hand the number of adults I know who can do nine things a day with both competence and high quality (I’m not one of them). Why would I expect a teenager to do better? For teachers, they face multiple preps, an endless series of starts and stops, and the unrelenting pressure of having to cram too much content into not enough time. But at least our politicians have increased class sizes and reduced support in order to make this task more manageable. As for instruction, I’ve yet to meet an educator that doesn’t understand that increasing time on task is critical to academic success. Yet in a nine period day, students spend 40 to 50 minutes a day just walking from class to class. Here’s my idea, instead of taking PE, just count the passing periods as a PE class. Now you have a ten period day. I don’t want to brag, but this may be my best idea ever. 2. With the trimester, students take five, 75-minute classes a day for twelve weeks. Now students have a manageable course load. And teachers only have four courses a day to prepare for and they actually have time to teach the content. So what could be the downside? 3. Here are the downsides. First, not a lot of schools run the trimester, so your school will be different. Therefore, if being part of the herd is part of your district’s culture, then don’t do this. Second, the adults who manage the schedule will have to burn the midnight oil three times a year instead of two times a year. Obviously, a completely unreasonable expectation… Oh yeah, the trimester is better for teachers and students. 4. Notice that I didn’t mention state tests. A lot of trimester detractors claim that the trimester doesn’t line up with state testing calendars. Interestingly, neither does the traditional semester calendar. But if believe that being exposed to all of the content prior to the test (trimester) is worse than not being exposed to all of the material before the test (semester), then keep doing what you have always done. If anyone wants additional scheduling information or support, just call Jo (number below), she can set you up with a meeting with Former Principal of the World and Expert Scheduler, E. Don Brown. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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