The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

Wednesday Schedule: Helpful or Hurtful?


Wednesdays at Harwood are hectic, to say the least. Frantic students, disorganized teachers, bells every 45 minutes, confusing schedules. What’s going on at Harwood?

After the school year of 2021-22, as Harwood sought to return to “normal” post-Covid, a 7-block schedule was implemented on Wednesdays. This schedule included students attending every class over the course of the day in an irregular way. According to Jess Deane, the Teaching and Learning Coordinator, the 7-Block Wednesday creates a stable schedule where days of the week across weeks are consistent. The irregular order of the blocks helps facilitate student participation in off-campus programs: such as HCLC, dual enrollment, internships, and Barre Tech. 

Though controversial, the Harwood Wednesday 7-block schedule has been here for two years. Ever since it has been implemented, students and teachers have discussed its pros and cons. For most students, the Wednesday schedule is a source of stress.

One student comments, “Teachers use this time and we get extra homework that’s due the next day, and it’s really not helpful when you’re trying to balance the other homework they assign you either the day before or two days before.”

Homework aside, one student reports, “It’s also really taxing on students […]  it’s just really draining at the end of the day after going through all seven classes.”

Amidst all the problems, one student identified a potential silver lining: “If you have an upcoming summative, you can just have class time to work on that because there’s no actual time for a lesson.” 

Stresses of the seven-block schedule are not only felt by students, but by teachers as well. For many teachers, the schedule lacks time for preparation, makes classes feel rushed, and diminishes the time they need with their students.  

One teacher argues that in order to be ready for class, “Sometimes you have to take shortcuts […] you have to do things just to sort of survive as opposed to […really] planning the way you would want to plan.”

In addition to lack of preparation time, another teacher identifies a lack of teaching and learning time:  “I tend to plan to do too many things on a Wednesday and it’s only 40 minutes and there’s not enough time, and […] it just disrupts the flow.”

While many teachers focus on its drawbacks, one teacher offers, “I guess the only thing I like about it is nice to see all your students in one day.”

The Harwood administration agrees that the 7-block schedule may be less than ideal, but claims it was the best option at the time of its induction due to the uneven amount of days in a school week.

Jess Deane says, “I think a seven-block day is not what’s best for learning, which is generally why we move beyond that. And most high schools have block scheduling of some kind with longer blocks. […] Having a fifth day creates this problem you have to solve in some way.”

Co-Principal Laurie Greenburg explains, “The ideal is to have those 60 to 70-minute blocks. But we also have five days a week… and that causes challenges. So, it’s always: Do the disadvantages outweigh the benefits of being able to keep a steady schedule? It’s hard to tell.”

While many have argued a rotating black-gold day schedule would be superior, Co-Principal Laurie Greenberg comments “this has been the ongoing question of what works better? …[When the schedule] stayed changing every week…the same things came up. It was confusing. It was hard to follow.”

It seems students, staff, and administration agree: While a few of the benefits to the Wednesday schedule are important, the current Wednesday schedule is not the best fit for the Harwood community. So what are the other options? 

One student suggests, “go back to how it was when I was in middle school, which was every other day, and it alternates every week.  […] It’d just be longer classes, more time to have lessons, and you wouldn’t have all seven classes on one day, which just really sucks.”

Jess Deane proposes,  “If I could blow it all up, I would have a four-day school week. Because four is an even number. And from a scheduling perspective, even numbers are easier to work with.”

What do you think should be changed about the Wednesday schedule, or do you think it should stay as is? If you’re inspired to create change, or want to argue your case for why the schedule on Wednesday should stay, you can join the Department Head Team during ELO with Jessica Deane and Matt Henchen to help develop next year’s schedule. 

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