Middlesex Middle School to roll out change to morning schedule

Middlesex Principal Shelley Somers spoke to the Board of Education on July 25 about a change that is to be made to the morning schedule. Currently the day begins with a 25 minute period of SSR, or silent sustained reading. However, data from Somers suggests that first period is not necessarily being taken seriously by parents and students, and that it should be moved to later in the day.
Somers offered data regarding the amount of tardies at Middlesex in the last year. Between Sept. 1 and June 7, there were 3,452 8th grade tardies. There were 2,361 seventh grade tardie. and 1,775 sixth grade tardies. Across all grades it adds up to nearly 45 tardies per day.
“That’s not including tardies excused for weather,” said Somers. The feeling is that, since the day simply begins with SSR, parents and students do not consider it a serious problem if they arrive a bit late as academics are not taking place. So, Somers has suggested moving that 25 minute session to after second period, at about 9:30 in the morning and repurposing it’s use a bit.
There is a teacher and another educator in every room during this period. Somers laid out a plan using hypotheticals for what the period could look like each day, as each would have a different purpose.
Monday could be focused on digital organization.
“We’ve worked with the tech committee to make sure students have everything they need in folders, including a tech/digital portfolio,” said Somers. The period could be focused on making sure students have all their digital materials organized and prepared. Parents could be included in this process so that they are part of the digital feedback the students have been receiving from teachers.
Tuesday would have a suggested agenda given to homeroom teachers for conversations around social and emotional issues. “The goal is for teachers to develop relationships so they can be another adult available in time of crisis and make sure all students are part of a peer group,” said Somers. The school has been looking for ways to better and further address social and emotional issues that have been raised as concerns by parents, particularly as the technology roll out continues.
Wednesday could be similar with a suggested agenda given to teachers, but the focus would be on study skills and academic strategies. Examples would be preparing for an essay test or a multiple choice test, which some middle school students will be taking for the first time.
Thursday would focus on allowing students to get extra help in difficult areas. “This would be a safety net to make sure students receive the help they need for particular assignments,” said Somers, who pointed out that currently there is a pass system in place and the help is available in the middle of the day. Somers also said this time could be used for IDEA or special education services, but that is an idea for the future.
Friday would simply be a study hall to prepare for the weekend. “Students can get a head start so weekend time with the family can actually be spent with family,” Somers said.
Somers also said there has been a tremendous level of support from teachers on this idea. Teachers have been working with Somers for the past year to help design agendas for these periods. “This is not a counseling period, it’s a conversation period,” said Somers.
The board does not need to take action for a simple shuffling of the times, as it is not necessarily a curricular change but an operational one. However, there was some discussion about the nature of what was to happen in these periods, and if that might constitute curricular change. Ultimately, the operational change will go forward, and Somers will return to the board at the next meeting with more information about the topics and strategies being discussed.

[email protected]