Oakdale Junior High School students are spending a bit more time in their classes this year. While the length of their school day has not been altered, their time spent in the classroom has. How? Simple, class time modification by way of reducing the schedule from an eight period day to a seven period day.
According to Jon Webb, OJHS Principal, the staff was in need of more instructional minutes/more hands on time with their classes. The solution came at the hands of one department, made possible only by team effort.
“Everyone was involved in it,” Webb said of the schedule reduction. “I think if it was isolated and behind closed doors … I don’t believe it would have caught on like it did.
“Our vision was academic success for our students,” he added of the initial Fall 2015 meeting. “When we started collaborating the first thing was; we need more class time. How do we get that? It just started snowballing from there and it built itself.”
Administrators and staff began brainstorming on a variety of block schedules, reviewing pros and cons on how each would work for OJHS. The end result – alter English from a two block period to one. In doing so seven minutes of instructional time could be added to each of the seven remaining periods.
“That was really the only wiggle room that we had,” the principal said of the English class merge. “It was asking a lot of our English teachers to give that up, because they had lesson plans designed for 88 minutes (two 44 minute class periods).”
The timing of the proposal however, happened to be perfect, as the English department was adopting new curriculum at the time. To the outside eye seven minutes may seem miniscule, yet Webb pointed out it translates to a large number throughout the course of a school year.
“The feedback so far has been positive,” he said. “All staff, not just me, wanted to make this place better. The fruits of our labor, or the results will be with our SBAC scores in Spring.”
To additionally help the English department with the hit, class sizes were reduced from a number of 30-plus students to the lower 20’s, Webb shared.
“They appreciated that,” Webb said of the teachers. He noted the cohesiveness of the staff of 36 certificated teachers as they worked toward the common goal.
“Making sure everyone was on track and on the same plan,” he continued. “That’s the only way it got through.”
The principal has no doubt that the end result will be proof positive that the vision and the goal of he and the staff will be well worth it.
“It should affect all of our classes in a positive way,” Webb said of the outcome. “It’s going to affect our state testing in a positive way.”
He also offered praise for those involved.
“The staff is fantastic,” Webb said of his team. “Their mission is to provide the greatest opportunity environment for the community’s kids.”