Longer classes lower engagement

Julia Schwartz, Staff Writer

Students at BSM are now taking four 80-minute classes a day as opposed to the eight 40-minute classes they had last year. Having only four classes, called block periods, each day leaves students with a lot less homework, but the classes feel a lot longer. Teachers will occasionally give students a break to get up and stretch, but it still gets hard when students are learning about just one subject for 80 minutes. 

What do the students think?
Infographic created from a Knight Errant survey of 193 students.

I find myself getting distracted a lot. Classes are so long that a little more than halfway through the class I find myself getting sidetracked. I don’t pay attention as well as I probably should. After lunch is when I really start to crash, the school day at that point just feels a lot longer than it did last year. Block periods just make it really easy to get distracted and not be as motivated to learn. 

We still have eight classes per semester; they are just split into four classes a quarter. That leaves us with fewer days to learn the material. There are fewer assignments in the grade book, making each assignment weighted more, which is more stressful. The really small assignments that didn’t seem to matter that much before, I see them having an impact on my grade. 

It seems teachers also struggle to fit in a whole semester in one quarter. I’ve noticed that units are being taught at a much faster pace than before. Units aren’t being taught in as much depth as they were before which makes it harder for me personally to understand what we are talking about. I catch myself working at a much faster pace rather than taking a longer time to truly understand the material.

I also liked having eight classes a day because I could talk to more people. I had different people in all eight of my classes, so I was able to socialize with different people throughout the day. Now, because I only have four classes a day, I find myself talking to a lot fewer people. But that also could be partly because we are no longer allowed to stop in the hallway to chat with friends. If we had eight classes I would be able to see more people. 

Overall, I don’t prefer to have block periods every day; it just gets to be a long day, you don’t get to see as many people, and classes are harder. I do understand though that it’s the best option right now in these times. Hopefully, soon we will be able to go back to our regular schedule.