Has the bell rung on the 45-minute class period?
It may be time to rethink the traditional 45-minute class period, as the format may constrain teaching by not allowing for longer deep-dives into subject matter, according to the The Hechinger Report.
Giving educators the ability to adjust classroom schedules may let them teach for the length of time they think is best needed for a specific topic, but the question of how to build that time into a school day is problematic for administrators faced with the realities of scheduling requirements and even staff numbers.
Flexible scheduling, however, may give teachers the chance to imagine more project-based learning and more face-time with students to enhance their education.
The traditional 45-minute (or so) class schedule is one that’s commonplace among schools. Children rotate between classes for short segments. Those who don’t get what they need in that period are encouraged to come in after class, or even after school — an added burden for students as well as teachers.
Considering a flexible learning day, which upends the traditional class schedule, is not a simple decision — but it’s one many districts are considering and have even put into place, including New York City’s Department of Education. Also known as block scheduling, the option gives educators more time in front of students, but across fewer days.
One meta-study from 2006, published in the Review of Educational Research showed inconclusive results from changes in scheduling. Yet other studies, like one from 2005, showed math scores rose after middle school students went from a traditional to a block schedule.
This is a decision that needs careful planning and plenty of communication, as one school district in Virginia found after not letting parents know about plans to shift to block scheduling. Administrators who want to consider how a more flexible schedule might help students would be well-advised to bring teachers, as well as parents, into the conversation — and early.
- The Hechinger Report OPINION: How 45-minute class periods stall learning