(Updated, 5/19/2021, 6:30 pm)
The schedule for the 2021-2022 school year will look a little different than in years past. On April 28, the new schedule was released to the student body, featuring 75-minute classes meeting every other day. This schedule unifies the entire school, grades 6-12, and is meant to help reduce workload for students and provide more consistency.
The schedule consists of eight blocks split over two days. Each block is 75 minutes long, with a 15 minute passing period between classes. Students typically take five or six classes. Students will only take, at most, four classes per day and classes will meet every other day. There is also time built into the middle of every day for divisional activities such as advisory time, club time, and class meetings.
The old schedule, with 47-minute classes and a 9-day cycle, had been in place since 2015. When the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) came to Albuquerque Academy in 2020 for our decennial accreditation visit, one of their recommendations was to simplify the schedule and unify 6-7 and 8-12 on a common schedule. The process was started by Andy Watson in February 2020 but was put on hold due to Covid-19. The committee was headed by David Kim, who has been involved in creating and tweaking the schedule since 2010, and was made up of faculty members from all divisions and departments. While the COVID-19 shutdown shifted the goals for the upcoming school year, Janet Wilson, the 8/12 scheduler, says that next year the school hopes to offer more opportunities for electives.
Under the new schedule, students will enjoy lighter homework loads per night and more discretionary time during the day. Because all eight periods won’t be filled by classes, students will have free periods at least every other day to get ahead on homework, meet with teachers, and hang out with friends. Homework can be due on days where the classes meet, so students will have an extra day to get work done. Wilson advises students against leaving all their homework for one day. “I had a teacher who taught on a schedule like this before say it gets really bad when everybody leaves the homework for the last night,” she says.
The unified schedule will allow teachers to teach classes across all three divisions, which will decrease class sizes in 6/7. Teachers will also be able to plan their class time more effectively instead of needing to plan around randomly spread-out drop days and long periods. Since every class will meet on a consistent basis, teachers will be able to sync up all their sections, creating a better experience for both students and teachers. “We’ve learned this year that 47 minutes isn’t very long. I think teachers are looking forward to having more time.” Wilson, who also teaches math says.
While students do have some reservations about the changes, most are willing to give it a chance. Thomas Pullen 23’ is looking forward to the lighter workload and only taking half of his classes in one day. However, he’s not looking forward to the different lunchtimes. “I don’t really want to be eating lunch at two o’clock,” he says. Becca Faber 24’ is happy to not be using the trimester model adopted because of Covid-19 next year. Unlike Pullen, Faber liked having all of her classes in one day and says that aspect will take some getting used to. Kim admits that the new schedule won’t be perfect on the first try, but is willing to make little tweaks as time goes on. “There’ll be some wrinkles and it won’t be perfect,” he says, “but I think this will be better.”