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Traditional Scheduling vs. Block Scheduling

written by: Lady Lit•edited by: Trent Lorcher•updated: 10/25/2012

Most students and teachers are familiar with traditional scheduling. This is also known as the seven day period, where classes meet every day of the week. What are the benefits and drawbacks to this type of scheduling?

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    In traditional scheduling, students have classes every day. Classes generally meet for about 50 minutes at the time, and students see the same teacher every day for their classes. Block scheduling is a somewhat newer method that allows for longer time in class. Students will be in class for 80 to 95 minutes for example, but classes don't meet every day. Traditional scheduling is probably what most students and teachers are familiar with, and it works for the most part. However, it does have some disadvantages, which is why some schools choose to schedule classes differently.

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    Advantages of a Seven Period Day

    A Student’s Perspective on a Seven Period Day

    Traditional scheduling offers many advantages that block scheduling does not: students have daily contact with each teacher and provides more in class time for students. Students who suffer from attention deficit disorder and other disabilities are better able to focus during shorter periods and benefit from daily teacher-student interaction. Likewise, students in the short attention span era of MTV, text messaging, and Youtube focus better during short periods.

    Continuity is an important factor with traditional school scheduling. Students immediately establish a pattern to their day, making it easier for them to remember their classes and assignments. None of this matters, of course, if students do not perform better with traditional school scheduling. Block scheduling proponents point to a higher graduation rate with block scheduling schools. What they fail to mention is the watered down diploma their students receive. They graduate more because there are more classes available. They cram eight classes into what was intended to be a six or seven period schedule.

    That being said, there are some disadvantages to the traditional school scheduling.

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    Disadvantages of a Seven Period Day

    What are the disadvantages?

    One major disadvantage of a seven period day is that students have seven classes to prepare for, seven textbooks to carry, and possibly seven homework assignments. On some days, students will have multiple tests to study for, thus requiring the student to perform a balancing act in order to manage his/her schedule effectively. While this does have some positive benefits, such as having students learn better time management skills, it can make it more difficult for them to adequately prepare for all their classes.

    With seven classes come seven teachers who all have different classroom environments, different classroom expectations, and different classroom rules. Students must remember in whose class they can chew gum, in whose class they are only allowed to breathe, and in whose class they are allowed to roam campus.

    One obvious disadvantage for teachers is less class time. It can take several minutes for students to calm down and adjust to the classroom environment before even getting into the teaching. Block scheduling allows teachers a greater amount of time to actually teach their students a subject without interruption.

    As a teacher, I personally favor the traditional method. Although block scheduling allows longer classes to better delve into a subject, I find it more suits my teaching style to see my students every day. What is your opinion?