Students split on the advantages of block schedules 

The new schedules, implemented for remote learning, have clear benefits for some and drawbacks for others

New+Trier%27s+block+schedule+for+the+Winnetka+campus

New Trier High School

New Trier’s block schedule for the Winnetka campus

Some students and teachers are finding the school’s block schedule to be exhausting because of unbalanced days and 70-minute Zoom calls. Others, however, say the schedule allows them more time to focus on their classes. 

The block schedule splits a typical nine period school day between two separate days that are 15 minutes longer than last year called “Blue” and “Green” days. Each period is 70 minutes. The average week kicks off with Trevian day, a traditional nine-period day with 35-minute classes, and is followed by Blue days on Tuesday and Thursday and Green days on Wednesday and Friday. 

According to the school website, administrators adopted the block schedule to reduce student movement throughout the day during hybrid learning, provide more time for class discussion, and ensure students didn’t have to drop elective or support classes. 

Some students, like senior Elsa Vieregg, have found the longer periods to be both physically and mentally exhausting because they stare at a screen for 70 minutes straight during class. 

“Every single day we’re on screens now. I’ve heard from tons of students that people are getting headaches and it’s really hard to concentrate for a duration of that time, especially because we’re at home and there’s so many things that are distracting to us,” said Vieregg.

Some students find the longer periods to be beneficial because they have more time to focus on school work. Junior Maryanne Xu said  the new schedule has given her more time to do homework with the block schedule’s longer free periods. 

“The longer free periods have helped me focus because if it’s a 40-minute free period, I convince myself that I can’t do any work, but if it’s longer then I get a bigger break between my classes and can really get into the work I intended to do,” said Xu.

Another benefit to the block schedule is that classes are more spread out, so school days are less chaotic. 

“With the original schedule, I didn’t have time to process any of my previous classes. Everything was just on top of one another and it was super stressful. Coming onto the block schedule, I have more time to get more information out of my classes,” said Vieregg. 

Many students agreed that their Blue and Green days were disproportionate. Most found that Blue days were far more academic than Green, with more intense classes and less free time.  

“I have all of my harder classes grouped into my Blue day, with Physics, Math, and Civics back to back, whereas on Green days I have two free periods, KWs, English, and Spanish. There’s a large imbalance between the days,” said junior Erica Hur. 

Senior Grace Mangel ends her Blue days four and a half hours later than her Green days.

“My Blue day ends at 3:35, and I have two AP classes, but my Green day ends at 11:05 and I have way less work to do,” said Mangel.

However, Mangel likes the imbalance because it provides her a break and she  looks forward to Green days, especially Friday. 

“I can also catch up on assignments from my Blue days,” she said.

Unbalanced daily schedules have not been the only criticism of the hybrid block schedule. Trevian days in particular have caused much concern for students and teachers alike because of the rapid period changes. The method of teaching style required for 35-minute periods is still confusing for Spanish teacher Stephanie Gamauf. 

“It’s still to me unclear what the expectation is. Are we to Zoom? Do we Zoom for a couple minutes? Is it supposed to be asynchronous learning? I’ve tried out all three methods, but I want a clearer definition on how we should spend our time.” 

Gamauf said that the intensity of Trevian days tire her out easily.  

“The first Trevian day I had, I was exhausted by the end because it’s all nine classes and you’re Zooming. I have six periods in my day so after every Trevian day, I’m wiped out.”

Most students still held mixed feelings on whether or not they would not want to keep it for next year, if learning is in-person. Sophomore Nicolle Bokiess said she had no preference between the nine-period model and the block schedule. 

“I think it could be beneficial to keep it. It would be easier for some people to focus in a classroom for 70 minutes as opposed to Zoom. It definitely depends on how it works out, and they continue testing it out before deciding.”