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Student-Focused, Value-Driven

WA Implements Student-Focused, Value-Driven Schedule for 2022-23 School Year

As schools across the country work to provide students with the academic and social experiences needed after Covid-19, many are looking at all aspects of a program to have the largest impact. At The Woodstock Academy, one of the largest leverage points is the daily schedule, which has been modified for the 2022-23 school year to increase focus on the whole child. By adjusting the schedule, The Academy aims to provide better preparations for learning and engagement by meeting the students’ academic and social needs within the confines of the school day.

“Research shows that students who feel connected to school are more successful overall,” said Dr. Michael Harten, dean of academics at The Woodstock Academy.

The first schedule change is to replace one of the current Advisory Blocks, offered two times per month, with an Activity Block. In spring 2022, students participated in an activity of their choice in place of an Advisory Block, which provided them the opportunity to develop relationships and connections, as well as student growth and success. 

The second change, a new daily schedule that moves lunch to its own time and does not run it in conjunction with third block classes, is designed to carve out more time for students to access adults, and for adults to access other adults. This modification was made through the reflection of e-learning, recognizing that the community lunch hour positively impacted the pace of the day due to the creation of flexible time that could be customized to student needs, including academic support. For in-person learning, these benefits will be present during the lunch hour, as the library, gyms, and help rooms will be available for student use. Clubs and activities can also have scheduled meetings during this time, which may increase student engagement, especially for those who have transportation limitations outside of school hours.

“From a diversity, equity, and inclusion standpoint, community lunch places that essential contact time during the school day, reducing inequities of geography or work or family responsibilities that many of our students have when these opportunities occur only after school,” said Harten.

The appropriate structure can create a culture of connection, belonging, and relationships. It can allow adults to better focus on and monitor student mental health and wellness, potentially increase overall school engagement, and it can create more effective accessibility for academic support, as well as opportunities for student involvement in extracurriculars and social-emotional activities that intentionally target educational inequities among diverse groups.

“After the last few years, we wanted to take time to be more intersective about our educational program. These simple changes allow our community to become more connected and caring of one another. They also allow us to add fun and joy back into our learning environment which is vital to both our pandemic recovery and our path for growth,” said Associate Head of School Holly Singleton.

The Woodstock Academy is an independent, day and boarding, co-educational, college preparatory high school for grades 9–12 and postgraduates located in Woodstock, CT. The mission of The Woodstock Academy is to prepare all students by providing diverse opportunities through a rigorous curriculum and a variety of programs in order to cultivate the necessary skills to become lifelong learners and global citizens.