BBMS schedule changes to debut at start of school year
Getting a new backpack and clothes are all part of the back to school routine for many, and this year middle school students will have an additional new item—a new schedule. The updated schedule will allow for students to engage in an advisory period as well as a flex period, providing more time for areas of interest and meeting with support staff.
Students used to have a 40-minute rotating period schedule, before a drop block schedule was adopted that had 53-minute periods, with eight periods and two dropped classes each day, allowing students to participate in six classes throughout their time in school.
“COVID threw a monkey wrench in that,” BBMS Principal Seth Horowitz said, noting that now is a good time for the school to look at students’ schedules and make further adjustments.
Students, parents, and teachers worked together to find a solution. After researching middle school best practices, the team identified two areas they felt would benefit students: a flex period and an advisory period.
“We reworked the schedule,” Mr. Horowitz said. “There will now be seven periods a day and only one class drops each day. The core classes will be 50 minutes on a rotating schedule.”
Classes such as Physical Education, Music, World Language, and an exploratory class will meet each day for 40 minutes.
“The flex period is designed to meet the individual needs of students,” the principal noted. “Academically, those needs are different each day.”
Each day students will have the option to use this time for enrichment, remediation, library time, or meeting with teachers for additional help. They will have two 20-minute time slots to engage in one of these options.
With the old schedule, the principal explained, students would be removed from their exploratory classes for things like remediation work.
“The goal with flex time is to build more time for exploratory classes,” he said. Sixth and seventh graders will take a different class each marking period consisting of art, digital media, family and consumer science and technology. In eighth grade, students select two of these options and engage in them for half a year.
The new schedule will also allow students to participate in more social-emotional well-being activities.
The advisory period will allow students to meet with a mentor in small groups of about 10 students.
“It’s really focused on building relationships, goal setting, mentoring, and talking to kids about things they may need advice on. We want to create a positive environment,” Mr. Horowitz said.
During discussions last year with the parent committee, the principal said parents were receptive to these changes and any concerns they had were addressed. The school day will still end at 2:40 p.m. for all students, and they will no longer be allowed to leave early if they do not have a class at the end of the day.
“I just thought the flex period made a lot of sense, especially for that middle school age level because they don’t always reach out for help,” Perri Ross, a parent who participated in the committee that researched options, said. “It’s going to force them to look for that support and cause the teachers to reach out to students.”
Ms. Ross, whose daughter will be entering seventh grade and whose son is in high school, said the flex time can also be used as an enrichment period if teachers have an activity that will enhance student learning, or they can use the time to provide extra support to a student who may need it.
“It will be a good change for the kids,” she said.
Teachers too have been made aware of what to expect, including hosting professional development days last year to review the changes. They will also be reminded during teacher planning days before the school year gets underway.
“One of the things that COVID taught us is to be flexible and don’t sweat the small stuff,” Mr. Horowitz said. “I am very optimistic this schedule will be a great thing for the kids and faculty.”
Information about the schedule changes was shared in the August newsletter the principal sent to parents. In the letter, he assured the community there will be more information distributed prior to the start of the school year to ensure the adjustment goes smoothly.