From Joshua D. Sommermeyer
If you have not heard, we made some big changes to our daily time schedule this year at Concordia. Here are a few highlights of what it looks like:
Students now sign up for eight classes per semester instead of seven, allowing for more student choices as well as an increase in the requirement for theology classes for graduation from five credits to eight.
Classes largely meet on a block schedule, odd classes one day, even the next. When we have a five-day week, Friday is typically an “all classes” schedule.
Students and teachers enjoy a daily, hour-long lunch period. Gone are the days of three or even four lunch periods a day where many students and teachers had to endure split classes (meaning 20-25 minutes of class, lunch and then return for the rest of class.)
During this extended lunch period teachers are available for extra help via office hours (three times per week for 30 minutes), and clubs and organizations also have meetings. Students can eat in a variety of locations around campus, including outside if they can find a willing teacher. We are even looking forward to our first music and drama mini-performances during this time block.
Many reasons. First, and most importantly, is to provide the best student experience possible within the context of pursuing educational excellence. Practically speaking, it allows for more student choices of electives outside of graduation requirements. It allows for increased, direct instruction of theology, gives time for clubs and organizations to meet within the school day, and dramatically decreases the frantic “all classes meet every day” schedule.
So, how is it going?
There are certainly some kinks to work out, but overall it is going well. (Who would have thought students would want to eat in stairwells?) We are excited about the new and innovative ways teachers are using the big chunks of uninterrupted class time (up to 85 minutes). Students are figuring out when and how to navigate lunch when “everyone” wants to eat at the same time. Clubs and organizations are finding ways to take advantage of the extended lunch. Colleges and universities that are visiting have begun using the lunch period to talk to students without having to have them miss class. Students have also reported that they appreciate and like the less frantic pace of classes (basically the difference of four classes per day, as opposed to seven last year).
One other thing we are particularly excited about is that several of our area pastors and youth leaders have come in during the extended lunch period to have lunch with groups of students from their congregations!
How did we come up with the idea of the new schedule?
Concordia has been doing research on a new schedule design for about two years prior to implementation. As part of that process we’ve engaged consultants, attended specific “schedule design” workshops, and talked to many schools about their experiences and potential speed bumps as they implemented timetables or schedule features similar to ours.
It is certainly an exciting time around Concordia and people are getting used to the new schedule and what it means for their own educational experience. We look forward to all of the possibilities we believe will happen as both the students and teachers discover new ways to utilize time differently!