This year, Old Rochester Regional High School is piloting a new schedule in which twice a month, the school day will start an hour later. These two delayed start days are intended for collaborative teacher planning time. Last Thursday, September 5, was ORR’s first delayed start day.
The new schedule seemed to result in all-around positivity. Lindsay Tallman, a teacher in the social studies department, said she found the delayed start “extremely helpful.” Never before given time to work together during the school day, the history teachers used to attempt to collaborate between classes, during the six-minute passing time. With the delayed start, they have sufficient time to “effectively plan” their teaching. Thus Tallman, like other teachers, is not worried about missing class time due to the delayed start. The idea is that more effective planning will only lead to more efficient class time.
During this first planning time, teachers in all departments focused on creating common goals for the year, in order to align with the upcoming new teacher evaluation system. These goals materialized into a common essay rubric, teaching plans or assignments for the students.
Mary Cabral, a teacher in the science department, said that she found it helpful to set “individual goals for student learning and professional practice” during the planning time. This being her 21st year at ORR, Cabral has seen a lot of changes. She said “time will tell” if the new scheduling becomes permanent. This being a pilot program, the School Committee will re-evaluate the progress come January and then decide if the delayed start will continue.
Randy Allain, a teacher in the English department, is hopeful that the planning time will continue. He felt the delayed start provides excellent time for the teachers to “organize themselves.” Allain is looking forward to future planning times so that the teachers can share the strengths and weaknesses of their lesson plans.
Not only was the delayed start popular among the teachers, but among the students as well. Most were simply thrilled just to have an extra hour of sleep, as students are encouraged to arrive at homeroom by 8:30 am instead of the usual 7:30 am. However, some rely on the bus system or cannot accommodate their schedules for the delayed start. These students are permitted to arrive at school at the normal time and report to the library, cafeteria or auditorium for supervision.
Abby Bentz, a junior at ORR, felt this time “could be more productive for students.” For example, Bentz treated her hour in the morning as an extra study. “They could make it more academic, since we’re losing class time,” she suggested. However, she did feel the delayed start was helpful overall.
The hour of planning time was productive for at least one group of students – those of the National Honor Society. NHS took advantage of the delayed start to hold their meeting at a time that would not have any other scheduling conflictions. At the meeting, students discussed a possible future freshman/senior buddy meeting, community service activities for the year and an afterschool tutoring program.
The tutoring program, which started September 10, is for all students needing help in any subject. The tutors are members of NHS. Leah Thomas, a senior at ORR and President of NHS, hopes the tutoring will help both the students and the student tutors. The students will be learning academically, while the tutors will be learning values such as patience and community service.
Other clubs are also kicking off at ORR. AFS club, debate team, student council and math team have all began their weekly meetings. Drama club held their auditions for this fall’s production of “A Christmas Carol” last week and have begun rehearsal. Between teachers planning and all these extra-curricular activities, life is bustling at ORR.
By Renae Reints
(l-r): Sarabeth Morrell (adviser), Callie Gomes (secretary), Amanda Carreiro (community service coordinator), Jessica Belliveau (vice president), Leah Thomas (president) serve as leadership in ORR’s National Honor Society, one student organization taking advantage of the high school’s delayed-start pilot program by starting a tutoring group. Not pictured: Robby Magee (community service coordinator). Photo by Renae Reints.