June 13, 2024

Opinion

Larson: Big changes ahead in Glenbard District 87

Hybrid block schedule to be adopted twice week; start, dismissal times adjusted

Glenbard District 87 will begin the search for a new superintendent following the announcement that current superintendent David Larson will retire at the end of the 2024-25 school year.

Summer is upon us–a time for rest, travel and outdoor activities. While we are enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, we are also looking forward to some big changes coming to Glenbard Township High School District 87 in the fall.

Our four high schools will adopt a hybrid block schedule twice a week, and we will move our start and dismissal times later each day. These changes are part of our focus on providing students with a high-quality learning experience that meets their needs and prepares them for life after high school.

What is Changing

Starting in the 2024-25 school year, we will implement a hybrid block schedule on most Wednesdays and Thursdays. The schedule will feature:

  • Four 90-minute periods.
  • Students will attend their odd-period classes on Wednesday and their even-period courses on Thursdays. 40-minute lunch periods will occur during the third block.
  • Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays will retain the same schedule as this past year: eight periods per day, with Glenbard Hour (student support time) on Mondays and Fridays. Each high school will now feature three lunch periods.
  • Glenbard will also move school start and dismissal times 30 minutes later each day of the week. The new start time will be 8 a.m. and dismissal will occur at 3 p.m.The length of the school day does not change.

Early dismissal on Tuesdays will continue for teachers to participate in professional learning communities. This is a time that teachers collaborate to discuss ways to achieve better results for the students they serve in common subject areas. Research indicates a later start time has physiological benefits for adolescents that lead to better engagement and increased student learning.

Hybrid Block and Deep Learning Experiences

We are excited to launch a hybrid block schedule that will provide our students with deeper learning experiences. This schedule will also intentionally develop Glenbard’s Profile of a Graduate competencies within the classroom. Our vision of a Profile of a Graduate is a student who communicates, thinks critically, creates, collaborates, embraces diversity and is self-empowered.

This extra time in each class will benefit our students in numerous ways including:

  • Deep learning and authentic experiences for all students;
  • Additional time for projects, labs and other hands-on activities;
  • Experiences in classes that mirror college and work scenarios;
  • Focus on fewer subjects per day on hybrid block days (four classes instead of eight);
  • Less starting and stopping, transition time between classes;
  • Less time on refocusing and warming up to a new subject and class;
  • More time for collaboration between students.

Planning and Preparation

Changes of this magnitude require patience and persistence. Students, teachers and staff will all go through an adjustment period at the beginning as they navigate the new schedule. However, Glenbard teachers and administrators are putting in the work to make this a successful transition.

Throughout the 2023-24 school year, our talented educators participated in the district’s numerous professional development offerings. These sessions prepared them to effectively plan and teach for deep learning in a block period. They learned about topics such as: student-led discussion and activities; student supports within the class; student choice and teaching about our Profile of a Graduate. This focused professional development will continue in the 2024-25 school year.

Built-in Student Support Time

This past school year, we successfully introduced the Glenbard Hour into our school day schedule. The twice-weekly Glenbard Hour (Mondays and Fridays) is a designated resource time that allows students to access their teachers for academic support. It also reduces the need for students to arrive early or stay after school to seek assistance. Most Glenbard Hour sessions are devoted to student agency, where they use this time in areas that benefit them most. Examples include:

  • Students getting help from their teachers;
  • Test and lab retakes;
  • Future planning through college/postsecondary presentations;
  • Extending students’ learning;
  • Students collaborating with peers.
  • The Glenbard Hour also features advisory sessions on topics such as:
  • Course selection, post-secondary planning and areer exploration;
  • Skill development in self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision making, relationship building and social awareness;
  • Safety drills;
  • Surveys;
  • Award ceremonies and more.

I’m confident that our hybrid block schedule and changes to start and dismissal times will enhance our students’ learning experience and best prepare them for their future endeavors.