Schedules, schedules, schedules…

Schedules, schedules, schedules...

Dalal Al Mukhtar, Staff Writer and Editor

Ninety minutes – too long or just right? As those who have been at Gems American Academy for over three years will know, the schedule hasn’t always been consistent. Though it has remained the way it currently is from 2020-2022, the 2019-2020 school year schedule looked different. It contained six, sixty-minute classes a day and would be on a rotating schedule. For example, one would have blocks A, B, C, D, E and F on one day and blocks G, H, A, B, C and D on the next.

Whereas now, the schedule includes four, ninety-minute classes each day – excluding Friday which contains four, sixty-minute classes. The eight total classes taken by students are separated into two sets: Blue Day and White Day. The two sets alternate each day. And so, the question arises: is the productivity of students and faculty impacted by the schedule they follow?  

A study by The Review of Economics and Statistics found that the time of day impacts a student’s productivity levels and grades (specifically those in Middle and High School). It suggests that students who have classes earlier in the morning achieve higher grades than those who have classes towards the end of the day. This particular study is in favor of the previous schedule used by GAA. This is because that schedule gave students the opportunity to take the same classes at varying times of the day (throughout the week), allowing all versions of their productivity levels to be utilized and shown in each class. 

Contrastingly, according to Education Advanced, recent studies have shown that non-teaching activities (such as cleaning up a classroom, taking attendance, etc…) take up an extensive period of reserved class time. In context of the previous schedule, this would mean that students would get around a maximum of thirty minutes to be taught their material and apply it by practicing. This led to a greater-than-planned amount of homework, due to some understandably being unable to complete their assignments during class. These studies side with ninety-minute classes as they provide students with more time to finish and understand all of their material.

Here’s what some at GAA had to say about the situation at hand:

 A student in tenth grade, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated: “It was much easier for me to focus [in sixty-minute classes] as I have ADD (attention deficit disorder…) and I was able to be much more productive as my energy hadn’t been spent.”

Alia Daoud, a senior in GAA shared that “As a full IB student, I would prefer to keep the ninety minutes. It’s better to learn new information consecutively and coherently…”

 When speaking to Ms. Monica Martin (who you may know as the current Vice Principal of eleventh and twelfth grade), she presented the reasoning behind our current schedule. “[The old schedule] would create more [unintentional] homework… [Now]…we’re able to have richer engagement in our classes and…deeper understanding… [We want] to make sure that we can make you (GAA students) the strongest academically competitive student… Particularly in an international arena where if you’re looking to go to a university that is outside of what you hold as a passport, the rules are more stringent… (and) completely different than as if you were a [local].”

Evidently, there are both advantages and disadvantages to the current schedule. Some educators (such as Ms. Martin) have argued that Middle School students do not require ninety-minute classes in order to be successful, unlike High Schools’. Is it fair on Middle School students to be following such a schedule simply because High Schoolers ‘need’ it? Should our Middle School and High School schedules be different? As far as students are currently aware though, there are no plans for GAA to return to the discarded schedule. For the foreseeable future, we will continue our four, ninety-minute classes (Monday through to Thursday), and four one-hour classes every Friday.