B-Days left behind

Jackson Fromm, Online Editor

    In the first half of this school year, we have seen plenty of days of the regular class schedule being interrupted. In addition to the annually scheduled PreACT, PSAT, and senior class meeting, we have celebrated Oktoberfest, which led us into fall break, a hurricane day, the Winter Dance concert, and more. There is one thing that all of those have in common, though – they all landed on B-days. 

   This unfair proportion of missed B-day classes has made B-day teachers struggle to keep up with their A-day classes or even other A-day teachers.

    “It just felt like every time we didn’t have a 2nd period, which is when my class is, it was on a B-day, and so my kids just fell behind,” social studies teacher and department head Angela Bowman said. 

    In addition to being B-days, Oktoberfest, senior class day, and the Winter Dance concert were all during 4th period. This puts an even harder strain on 4B teachers. 

    “One of the hardest parts about losing so many classes is that my 4B class is attending their 31st day of class, January 5th,” English teacher Heather Barto-Wiley said. “If a class is around 90 days long for the year (or semester), we’re halfway through the year and only 1/3 of the way through our class. That is a lot of lost learning time.”

    While some classes can cram that lost learning time at the end of the school year, not all have that luxury. With AP exams in early May, AP classes have over a month less, even, to find room in the highly structured curriculum to fit in the material that needs to be taught. 

   “I think that as an AP teacher, we have the added pressure of having less class days than block classes anyway because AP exams take place in early May,” Wiley said. “So by the end of April, our students need to be prepared to take the AP exam. Losing days means our class is shortened even further.”

    Wiley is not the only AP teacher to experience this pressure. 

    “AP exams are in May, and so there’s really not that ‘Oh, you’ll catch it at the end of the semester,’” Bowman said. “You don’t do that; the AP exam is before we’re out of school. So that’s the struggle, is just getting the content, which means I just have to teach faster.”

      Besides AP classes, performing arts classes can only partially compensate for the lost time. With scheduled concerts to put on, these classes must fit in the same amount of learning into far fewer days. 

    “I encourage the students to put in more individual practice time to master the music, so we are ready for our concert,” orchestra director Deborah Shebish said.

    Curriculum learning time is one of many things that need to be recovered. Seeing each other less means relationships are different between teachers and students. Healthy, comfortable bonds that should exist to promote enthusiasm in teaching and learning may need more time to develop due to losing class periods. 

    “We’ve hardly seen each other!” Wiley said. “I want my students to feel respected and valued, but having to either push more content or slow down can be really frustrating and reflect badly upon classes when compared to others that have been able to meet more consistently. I have felt the need to explain to my students why we haven’t spent more time in certain content areas that feel very important.”

    As far as solutions to the issue, Wiley and Bowman discussed a mixture of just dealing with what North Carolina schedules, as far as the PreACT and PSAT, and the board paying mind to which days events are scheduled. However, one more important topic was brought up with a deeper purpose than just saving B-day class periods. 

    “I think one of the big things we can do would be to go with a traditional schedule,” Bowman said. “So that we have classes all year long, so if I miss a class, I only miss like 50 minutes instead of a whole 90 minutes.”

    Besides cutting down losses of class time, a return to a block schedule has been a growing idea because of the learning benefits it can bring. 

    “I think going to a class every day for a year just helps learn the material, but I also think 90 minutes is too long to sit in one space, even if you’re doing different things in that 90 minutes,” Bowman said. “I don’t think anyone should be expected to learn longer than their hiney can stay and sit in a desk… I think it’ll be a transition that can be challenging, but I do think year-long classes would benefit more people than not.” 

    Non-academic events, such as the dance concert and Oktoberfest, were enjoyed by the whole school and beneficial for school spirit. However, when these events, and many others, all fall on B-days, learning time is lost for those classes that can often take time to make up. This disparity must be paid attention to, as all classes need equal learning opportunities.