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A survey conducted on a sample of the faculty shows that if a new vote were to be held on the bell schedule, 60 percent would vote for some form of last year’s schedule, while the remaining 40 percent would vote to keep the current one.
According to Principal Anthony Barbetta, there are no plans to change the bell schedule at this point in time, though a “few minutes may be added to each band to make sure all students meet the DOE requirements of seating time.”
The extension of bands will come as good news to advocates for the previous schedule, as most maintain that the bands are far too short and hinder student learning.
Art teacher Margherita Wischerth says the “time constraint does not allow [for students] to fully engage in the art activity or to have an extended practice of a skill.”
For band teacher Peter Lustig, practicing is also a problem because after “setting and warming up, and leaving time to pack up, there is not enough rehearsal time left.” Mr. Lustig, however, would prefer to keep this year’s schedule because “it is too disruptive to keep changing.”
English teacher Christine Duffy had a block schedule at her former school with 69-minute periods that met three times a week. Ms. Duffy did not indicate a preference, but finds 40 minutes to be “too short to do a variety of activities and go in-depth on a topic.”
“It makes it harder to do group work because there is limited time [and it is also] harder to have engaging ‘do nows’ because I have to move the lesson along,” she added.
AP of Humanities Rafal Olechowski agrees, commenting that he “feels our students are capable of really sophisticated thinking and most of our teachers are eager to make it possible, [but] the time is too short to bite into the really real things in the lesson.”
However, many of the same teachers agree that having all bands meet every day allows for continuity with classes, while also making it easier to schedule tests.
This is the main argument for teachers who would vote to keep this year’s schedule.
Math teacher Magda Frankowski commented that “I have more flexibility when planning my tests, and it gives me more time to review before the Regents Exam.”
Principal Barbetta agrees that “testing is easier with the current schedule.” He added, “It’s [also] difficult to plan lessons when the classes meet on different days.”
After a year, students have adjusted to the new bell schedule but still find the previous schedule to be more appealing.
Sherin Shibu, sophomore, who created posters last year in protest of the changes said she’s “getting used to all bands meeting.”
She added, “that doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t miss the older schedule and that I wouldn’t welcome a change back to the older schedule.”
Junior Kirandeep Kaur feels “the new homework and testing policies have made the work load manageable” but still prefers the block schedule.
“Those additional minutes make a huge difference. It is difficult to give a full lesson in 40 minutes, especially when discussions are held.”