During my 30 years in education, I have had the privilege to teach and lead at all levels. The bulk of my career was spent teaching Mathematics at the high school (10-12) level. In the last 10 years, I have served as an administrator in 10-12, K-6, K-9, and 7-9 schools.
As a K-6 and K-9 administrator, I gained a large amount of respect for the floating timetable which is commonly used in elementary schools. Grade teachers could pretty much decide what the timetable would be for the day, for the week and beyond. For example, a grade 4 teacher can decide how to use the time of the day to successfully teach all of the learning outcomes of all the subjects. Teachers would collaborate with other teachers if they were uncomfortable teaching certain subjects. As an example, some teachers on my staff would trade French for Physical Education. Within this model, teachers got their prep time by sending their students to Music class, where they were taught by another teacher. Another wonderful thing about this type of timetable is that teachers could bring their students together and team team, utilizing the strengths of both teachers. There are so many positives in this approach and scheduling is quite simple. The only things that must be scheduled are Music and Physical Education (because the Gym cannot be double booked). Another wonderful thing about K-6 scheduling is that if a teacher feels that more time needs to be spent in a particular subject area, that can easily be done. Also, a teacher could decide to “chunk” the curriculum. In other words, focus on Science for a few weeks then focus on Social Studies.
Why do we change all of this when students go to Middle school/Junior High? Why do we go to a block schedule? Could a Junior High school operate without blocks of Math, Science, Social Studies and English, Physical Education, Religion and Options? Could we schedule Core time and Option time? Could two teachers be assigned to a particular grade and one teacher is responsible for Humanities and the other responsible for Science/Mathematics? I guess to do this, you would have to have appropriate pairings of teachers. But think about this, the teachers responsible for a certain grade level could collaborate and develop cross-curricular projects…that would be huge! Within the IB Middle Years Program, learning outcomes are broken into cross-curricular Units of Study.
I have done a great amount of thinking about this change to the block scheduling of a Middle school/Junior High school and had many conversations with other admin but have not been able to come up with anything concrete. If anyone has some information to share about this or you run a flexible schedule in your school, please connect by leaving a comment here.