Dr. Sandy Chambers | Principal | Hortons Creek Elementary
Because schools are continuing to implement the factory model of education which perpetuates the opportunity gap among subgroups of students, it’s incumbent upon administrators to lead schools in ways that continuously question and challenges the standardization of the way we’ve always done school.
Besides revamping the standard practices of pull-out interventions and academically gifted enrichment, there are other standard practices administration can think differently about in order to provide equitable opportunities.
The master schedule has always been a critical component of carving out instructional blocks of time to support core instruction. Schedules are created to give big chunks of uninterrupted time to English Language Arts and Math centered around lunch, recess and specials.
Each grade level is typically assigned a lunch, recess and specials time that occur at the same time daily. This common place practice has continued since the establishment of school schedules.
As a challenge to the status quo, and in efforts to offer opportunities of equity, I created a master schedule that rotates core instruction, along with lunch, recess and specials times.
I created six different schedules (A, B, C, D, E, F) for grades K-5 to follow rotating through six days (1-6). For example, Kindergarten, on Day 1, will follow the A schedule. On Day 2, Kindergarten will for the B schedule. First grade will follow the B schedule on Day 1, and on Day 2 will follow the C schedule. Once each grade level rotates through the six days, the rotation starts again.
The idea behind rotating lunch, recess and specials provides equity for all students. No one grade level will have the early lunch every day and same goes for the late lunch which sometimes leaves only the leftovers for students. Recess is another activity that, in North Carolina, can leave a grade level short changed. If the air quality is poor, and a grade level always has afternoon recess, well again, recess could be cut down to 10 minutes versus the early recess time allowing students to play for 30 minutes. In a week in May, June, July (year-round schools), or August, whatever grade level that has the 2 PM recess could potentially only get 50 minutes of recess/unstructured play for the entire week depending on the air quality; while the grade level with the 11 AM recess could get all 150 minutes of recess/unstructured play. Rotating specials activities just provides students with opportunities to experience Art, Music, PE, Media, and whatever else that is offered at different times during the day.
For core instruction, and the purposes for providing opportunities for students to experiences Writing, Math, English Language Arts, Science and Social Studies at varying times throughout a week, is to give students equitable access to curriculum at their best times during the school day. Students, on this rotating schedule, don’t always write at 10 AM every morning. Writing occurs a varying times throughout the six day rotation so you are sure to get students writing their best more times than not. Same goes for other instructional areas being taught and reviewed at different times of the day.