Abalone, Dolphins, and Flounder, oh my!

Zachary RobertsDear Gateway families,

Some of you have asked about the reasons for the new schedule this year.

Last spring, as we began asking ourselves how to increase our program’s excellence and pursue our school’s mission, we identified four key areas to consider closely: schedule, space, curriculum, and staff development. We want every faculty member to be able to deliver an excellent program in a dynamic system, so rethinking the daily schedule became a crucial priority.

After research into best practices at independent schools across the country, and consultation with Heads of School and industry experts, I felt the cycling schedule approach would be of great benefit to Gateway. Though it can be a challenge to change familiar routines, here are some of the ways in which students and teachers are already benefiting from this innovation:

  • Longer chunks of time: The A through F schedule gives us flexibility to have longer uninterrupted classes. Longer classes enable teachers and students to spend more time on complex concepts.

  • Promoting interdisciplinary projects: Teachers have greater flexibility for interdisciplinary curriculum. In the year ahead you will see even greater project-based links between subjects, deepening students’ understanding and engagement.
  • Support teacher collaboration: For the first time, teachers now have coordinated prep time built into the schedule so that they can meet and collaborate with their colleagues. Joined-up planning means more creative and engaging lessons for students.
  • Not missing classes: The A through F approach means the same classes don’t get missed repeatedly because of dropped Mondays or Fridays. In the prior schedule, if a class was on a Monday that was a holiday, it was simply skipped.
  • More time for specialist classes: The new schedule gives our students more time in art, Discovery Center, Life Lab, music, PE, and Spanish.
  • Restructuring the Middle School advisory program: Research shows that middle school children benefit more from shorter, more frequent advisory sessions. The new schedule enables us to build these sessions in.
  • Create space for the arts in the Middle School: Our new schedule includes an Arts Rotation for middle school so that every student gets to work in the art studio, music room, and Discovery Center during the year.  Further enrichment is provided through an exciting selection of Elective classes.

We have been carefully monitoring the first full cycle of the new schedule and I am pleased to report it’s going great. Faculty and students are already seeing the benefits and the whole school is getting into our new rhythm.

You will have an opportunity to learn more about your child’s class schedule and to speak with teachers about our schedule at Back to School Night on Thursday Sept. 15 for K-5 and on Thursday Sept 22 for Middle School. Assistant Head of School Sherri Helvie and I are always happy to answer any big-picture questions that you have as we implement this cycling schedule.

Warmly,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School