by Makayla Scerbo
The new school year of 2017 has seen many changes, including schedules that needed to be fixed. While nowhere near as extreme as last year, it seemed that everyone had something wrong with their schedule. There were many instances of students who had holes in their schedule, had extra classes, had classes they didn’t need, or were placed in classes they didn’t want.
The constant schedule changes at the start of the year have always been a huge problem for students, teachers, and administration. Because of the many unnecessary schedule changes last year, Mr. Hanson sent out an email to North Springs parents saying that the administration would be strict with schedule changes this year. This email was aimed at all the students who changed their schedule last year just so they could be with their friends or a teacher they liked. However, even with Mr. Hanson’s strict policy about schedules this year, there were still many students still in need of schedule changes.
Some teachers seem to share the same feeling of aggravation as the students. Kids coming in and out of a teacher’s class can be distracting; in addition, teachers must start teaching their lessons in depth. If kids are being moved from class to class, the teachers can’t proceed into their lessons without having someone enter late and fall behind. Once a student is behind, it’s hard for them to catch back up. The student who transferred into the class may have missed one, two, or even three weeks’ worth of work and instruction; in addition, the teachers must then catch them up.
Schedule changes are also hard on the administration. There are several hundred students who need schedule changes and only four counselors. Each counselor then has more work to do in the first few weeks of school, in addition to their usual duties. This is stressful for all, and if a student doesn’t like their schedule, they may get their parents to complain to the counselor, which puts more stress on the counselors.
Many schedule changes are justified, such as those for students who need a class to graduate or if they placed a class they don’t need. However, kids switching just because they don’t like the teacher or the class becomes ridiculous. The first two weeks of school are always frantic, but there are solutions.
One step in the right direction taken by the school this year was putting senior schedule changes first because the seniors need the right classes for graduation. The school should keep that policy in place while finding other ways to smooth the schedule process.
One solution is to set up a schedule change booth at Gear-Up Days so students can immediately fill out their form on-site when they first get their schedule and make the change process faster. The booth could also be set up before and after school during the first week so kids don’t have to miss class to try and change their schedule.
Another solution is for everyone to be better prepared. This year, the school ran out of schedule change forms before the first two weeks of school. The school could take into account how many needed changes were estimated and make enough copies to match or exceed that amount. The school could also give out information or a website listing all courses that are available. However, the school itself is not the only one accountable.
Students themselves must act in their own bests interests; not to get into their preferred teacher’s class, but to understand what they need in their schedules. Many students don’t know all of the course that are offered, how some classes may be substituted for another, or how some electives might count toward graduation but don’t count toward credit in a subject. In addition, many students don’t know or understand their pathway requirements, their specific degree requirements, or what they can do to fill the gaps in their schedules. Being provided the essentials by the school is a start, and communication on all sides is key, but by being better informed through the school and counselors early on, and by understanding and planning their own schedule and graduation goals earlier, everyone can win in the long run.
There are many ways to help schedule changes go smoothly. These suggestions show how it can be done without putting too much stress on the students, teachers, and counselors.