Students Adjust to Block Scheduling

Students excitedly arrived at Longfellow Middle School this year with a new type of scheduling–block scheduling. When the year began, students were required to adapt to the four-periods-a-day instead of the regular eight and wondered why they were required to do so. 

“FCPS, the school system, said all middle schools had to have the same schedule,” explained Principal Jim Patrick, “So, that’s the big reason behind that.”

Students have been asked to transition to a type of schedule where they have odd periods on one day, then even periods on the next, where the days with odd periods are called “blue days” and those with even periods are called “silver days.”

Many schools in the county used this schedule prior to the school closures in 2020, but when we all came back, it was required by the county.  One advantage is minimizing contact between students as there are fewer passing periods in the halls each day.

“Because of the pandemic, it was just given to us. We were just told we had to do it,” Dr. Patrick said. His focus in making the transition was making sure to train the teachers.

“We did work on some things with our staff members. Many of our teachers have taught the block at other schools, but some of them have not. So, we did talk to our staff and work with them on ideas on how to break the block up, because it is very different from teaching a 45-minute class.”

Students adapted pretty easily to the schedule, finding the extra day to complete homework a nice bonus. 

 “I think that it might put a bit less pressure on everyone working, although you have to wait for two days for your questions to be answered, or your emails might not be answered quickly,” said seventh-grader Vicky P.

According to Dr. Patrick, there are some important advantages to the block system. 

“From an education standpoint, it does allow for more classroom time, so when you do things like labs and activities, you have more time for those than the traditional 45-minute class,” he explained.

Block scheduling has both its advantages and disadvantages.  Certain classes, such as world languages, math, and music benefits from seeing the teachers every day, while others such as PE and science can benefit from having a longer class period. 

“There are pros and there are cons like there are for everything, and this is just what we’re doing at this school,” said Dr. Patrick.