Running Time: 4:44 min.
Something is missing from Helen King Middle School. Listen carefully and you won't hear the ubiquitous sounds of school bells ringing. Flexibility is key to scheduling at King.
The school is divided into six houses, or small learning communities, that allow students and teachers to get to know one another. Teachers in each house get four hours a week -- during the school day -- to work collaboratively, and each house designs its own schedule. They use the time to coordinate curriculum, lesson plans, resources, and all the nuts and bolts that go into planning 8 to 12 week learning expeditions.
When they're done with that, they still have time to discuss what to do about students who need a little more academic help, or a little more discipline, or any other issues they need to work out as a team. Teachers in Windsor 7, whose weekly schedule is shown below, break out their collaborative time into three 80-minute blocks. That's in addition to 40 minutes a day of individual prep time.
Some of you are no doubt shaking your heads right now at the notion of having four hours a week for planning with your colleagues. But if this schedule sounds absolutely inconceivable at your school, don't dismay -- King has been building up to this for some 20 years. (Download the school's project learning evolution chart for the years between 1988 to 2007 (PDF 236KB).) And be sure to check out our tips sheet on how you can introduce project learning in 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days.
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