Pros and Cons of Irvington’s New Block Schedule

Pros and Cons of Irvingtons New Block Schedule

Sitting in a classroom for 1.5 hours straight four days a week, three times a day, is one of the most mentally draining exercises that schools have put us through since the pacers test. 

For the 2021-2022 school year, Irvington High School opted to make a couple changes to the bell schedule which added 8 minute passing periods, a 30 minute later start time, hour long advisory and flex periods, and doubled the number of block days.

While the later start times have definitely helped students catch up on much needed sleep, the new schedule’s unnecessarily long periods have created many new problems for both students and teachers. 

Students now have four block periods and only see their teachers three times a week. Teachers are thus compelled to pack as much as possible into their limited lectures, making them more information-dense. As a result, students are forced to remember more of the material all at once. While students are given an extra day to get work done because of the alternating schedule, teachers just end up piling more homework with the belief that we’re good, academically motivated students who won’t procrastinate and leave it for tomorrow (we do).

“Much of the math department prefers our old schedule,” says Mrs. Mohandas. “We used to go over one lesson at a time, and students are able to process the information, do the homework, and come back the next day for another lesson. Because math has a lot of material, students have difficulty taking in so much information in just one class period.” Mrs. Mohandas explains how it’s become much harder keeping students engaged in the lecture and has dedicated breaks each block period. While certain departments like science have benefited from the longer periods for activities and labs, students that have difficulty paying attention for long periods of time benefit from shorter periods. It allots time for them to process the information without feeling overwhelmed or behind. 

“I think with the block schedule, we end up wasting a lot of time,” says Daniel Wang (11). “A lot of teachers have way too much time on their hands, and the majority of my classes always have free time at the end or just fill the time with busywork. I can kind of see the importance of flex and advisory, but I wonder why we can’t make appointments during lunch or after school.” The longer flex time helps students catch up on work, and the extra time is definitely beneficial for studying for an upcoming exam or just doing homework. The longer classes, however, make it difficult for teachers to fill up the whole period. Thus, students end up with a large percentage of their day being free time. 

While this is a speculation, exams are often pushed onto Monday, as it is the only “normal day” and the only day with all six periods which reduces the likelihood of cheating as all students have an equal amount of time to prepare for assessments. Students that took exams the day prior can give information about the test to people taking it the day after. I’ve had multiple weeks of Mondays filled with five tests back to back seemingly because of this. 

The eight minute passing periods have had a multitude of different responses. Personally, I think it’s too long and always find myself mingling around my classroom or talking to friends on the way to pass the time. 

“The 8 minute passing periods are not long enough to do anything substantial, but too long for traveling between classes,” says Tiger Yang (11). “The net result is wasted passing period time for many students and a shorter lunch.” 

On the contrary, other students seem to enjoy the extra time.

“8-minute passing periods are a huge improvement!” comments Hanqing Sun (11). “My personal schedule sends me on multiple world tours around the school, so the extra time is invaluable.”

There are obviously pros and cons for both new and old schedules. More sleep (debatable), more free time, longer and lengthier classes. Earlier start time, less free time, more frequent classes. The schedule for 2022-2023 school year is dependent on staff votes, and the debate is still up for discussion. Maybe we’ll have a completely different schedule, and hopefully, it’ll be one that takes the best of both worlds.