The New Derryfield Schedule: Making Time for What we Value
This month, we shared the new schedule in seven sessions with students and parents. The response has been overwhelmingly one of excitement. The new schedule makes time for what we value: relationships, community, exploration, and excellent teaching and learning. As we worked with our schedule consultants and the DS community, we focused on a number of priorities.
How can we change the pace of the day to mitigate stress and cultivate sleep, engagement, and joy?
The new schedule features four classes each day instead of six. This means there is more time to engage in learning of a specific subject and fewer transitions between each classes and fewer tasks to prepare for the next day.
Between each class, there are longer breaks (rather than the current three-minute passing times): Community Block (when students participate in All School Community Meeting, Advisory, Activities and occasional Class Meetings), Lunch, and Extra Help.
New to the upper and middle school, this thirty minutes of “Extra Help” in the MS and “Academic Block” in the US is designated time each day for teachers to be in their offices and classrooms, so that students can meet with them—rather than trying to squeeze this into free periods, lunch periods or after school when there are often conflicts.
Once each week, students will have a Delayed Opening, as the first class will begin at 9:00. Time for faculty to collaborate, these Delayed Openings will run just as they currently do. Students may sleep in and come in for that later start or come to school at the regular time. Buses will run at the regular time, and supervision will be provided in the MS and US between 7:30 and 9:00.
The eight day schedule (instead of our current seven day rotation) offers predictability and consistency: there are “Even” Days and “Odd” Days. A student will have the same courses and experience each Even or Odd Day. Electives will change at the trimester just as they currently do.
How can we continue to build upon the best of we already do while teaching 21st century skills?
The new schedule creates longer classes of seventy-five minutes, time for student centered learning, applying knowledge as you learn, innovative problem solving, and time to develop new strategies and experiences in collaboration, communication, media literacy, creativity and critical thinking. Students can complete a lab, begin homework and get answers to their questions before they head home, and collaborate on projects.
Derryfield teachers will continue to bring excellent teaching to this new framework. This spring, our Professional Development Days are devoted to two workshops: in February, we will work with Independent School Management to develop student engagement for the longer block and in June, we will work with the Buck Institute to develop project based learning.
The new homework policy enhances learning by favoring sleep, focus and flexibility. Although there are two nights between classes, teachers will assign only “night’s worth” of homework. Students may decide how to manage that time. We also are asking teachers to plan so that projects, papers and daily work meet the guidelines, on average, over a week. (More on this next issue!) Rested students are ready to learn.
How can we add access to new experiences, including new courses outline by the Academic Vision, and not decrease access to our current excellent program?
Our new classes, Visual Foundations in grade 9, Computer Science in grades 7 and 10, and Ethics in Leadership in grades 9-12, find a place primarily in the new additional block, leaving time for our current courses.
The extra block gives time to Middle Schoolers to pursue Chorus, Band and Strings and time for Study Hall. Both MS and US will have time for a new offering: Explorations, mini courses that might include fitness, major activities such as Robotics and Model UN, and new passion pursuits, such as Debate or the Chemistry of Cooking.
These are major highlights of the new schedule. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. As with any new program, we will seek your feedback as the schedule unfolds next year.