A Look at Brophy's Block Schedule, New for 2022-23

STARTING IN AUGUST 2022, Brophy will move to a block class schedule. While we have all become accustomed to changes over the last two years, this is not something related to the pandemic and is instead the result of years of discussion and research. In the education world, a block schedule means that classes meet for longer periods of time and usually fewer sessions per week. We firmly believe adjusting our schedule will allow us to deepen student learning and will positively impact campus culture.

Block scheduling is not a new concept — schools have been utilizing block periods for decades and our own summer school classes have long operated in a de facto block schedule. It will, however, certainly be new for Brophy as a standard schedule. For historical context, the last time Brophy changed its bell schedule was in 2004, and even that incorporated 50-minute periods that were already well ingrained into daily campus life.
SINCE THEN, much has changed about the school and with education in general. From significantly expanded academic and student activity offerings including more retreats, service opportunities and immersion trips, to a technological overhaul, campus life looks different than it did in 2004. In classrooms, a teacher at the front of the room and a hardcover textbook are no longer the only sources of content. Now, students have access to a world of information at their fingertips and can dig deep into subjects through research and projects. Our students have many more opportunities than they did two decades ago but without a corresponding increase in time allotment, the dichotomy between 21st-century changes in teaching and learning and a schedule rooted in the past becomes increasingly more difficult to leverage.

Parent partnership continues to be key — thank you for your support in all that we do. We are excited about this next chapter as we continue to prepare our students to live, work and thrive in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. Please read through the lists below — Priorities and FAQs. If you have other questions, contact Assistant Principal for Technology Mica Mulloy at mmulloy@brophyprep.org or 602-264-5291, ext. 6286.
 

Block Schedule: Priorities

List of 4 items.

  • > Adjust the pace of the school day and week.

    Our current schedule can be fast-paced. We want to slow that pace down and create opportunities to work differently without just piling into tight windows and packed days.
  • > Create space for community periods.

    In our current model, many of the things that make Brophy unique have to get squeezed into the margins of the school day or require people to sacrifice lunch periods in order to participate. In the new model, community periods will make dedicated room in the school day for these events and activities. This could be club meetings, intramurals, counselor/adviser sessions, liturgies, meetings with our newly launched team system, office hours, study periods and more. Whatever takes place, it will be time spent in community that the current schedule does not allow for.
  • > Create space for deeper learning in classrooms.

    Our current 50-minute periods can be limiting in what they allow our students to do and our ability to stay on the cutting edge of academic best practices. We know concepts like project-based learning and student-led inquiry can pay dividends when it comes to what students learn and problems they can solve. While we do not anticipate a shift in traditional outcomes such as standardized test scores because of this, we are excited to see what our students do when we break the confines of 50-minute classes.
  • > Create more regularity with the schedule.

    Even as we adjust the pace there are still events beyond classes that will happen on a regular basis such as Masses, assemblies, Summit keynotes, etc. We want to build windows into our schedule so these can happen without unnecessarily impacting class schedules.

Block Schedule: FAQs

List of 10 frequently asked questions.

  • Q What is the schedule for the 2022-23 school year?

    We will start the 2022-23 school year with this block schedule. This is what is known as an “A Day/B Day” model where class periods rotate back and forth over two days. Each class will be 80 minutes long. Over the course of a two-week cycle, each class will meet five times. That means each class will have 400 instructional minutes every two weeks, the exact amount of current instructional time over two weeks. What changes is how long each class meets and how frequently they meet.

    Some changes from the current schedule that families should be aware of:
    • The end of the regular school day will be 2:30 p.m.
    • On Friday of Week 1, school will dismiss at 2:30 p.m. On Friday of Week 2, school will dismiss at 12:35 p.m.
    • We will not have late-start Wednesdays. Instead, Thursdays during a “Week 1” schedule will be a late start. Classes will start at 9:30 a.m. on those days.
  • Q Will Brophy still share classes with Xavier College Preparatory?

    Xavier is not moving to a block schedule; thus, we will not be able to continue our exchange. We have a plan in place for students who are currently taking French or Mandarin at Xavier to complete their language requirement. We are looking for ways that academic coed groups might work together outside of school hours.
  • Q How did Brophy build its schedule?

    Our A Day/B Day schedule is the result of more than six months of work starting in January 2021. A committee of more than 20 faculty members met on a regular basis to look at various models, scheduling options and community input. We held focus group meetings with students, parents, faculty and staff, and also worked with an educational consultant to design a schedule that would allow us to focus on the four priorities listed on this page and also take into account our unique context and campus needs. While we understand that no school schedule will be perfect, we believe this schedule is the best option as we move forward. Of course, we will be attentive to how the schedule works in practice starting in August and can make adjustments in real time if needed.
  • Q What are teachers doing to prepare to teach in a block schedule?

    Events of the past two years have provided ample evidence that learning can happen outside of a “traditional” schedule, as well as our community’s ability to make major adjustments in order to best serve students. Our faculty has been engaging in professional development work since spring 2021 to take advantage of the academic opportunities this change presents. 

    This year the faculty has worked in departments, with educational consultants, and in collaboration with other schools in the Jesuit Schools Network that already run a block schedule. Our time with educational consultants has created sustained opportunities for teachers to dig into new pedagogical approaches and best practices. The conversations with other schools have given our faculty valuable insight into teaching in a block schedule. It is worth noting that while some teachers and administrators at these schools shared initial questions and even anxiety about their own move to a block schedule, none have said they regret the move and would want to go back to a regular schedule.

    At the start of the second semester, we ran a block schedule trial during the first week of class to give teachers and students real experience in 80-minute periods. We surveyed students at the conclusion of that week and teachers have used that data, their own reflections on the experience and discussions with our consultants to hone classroom planning. We will run a second block schedule week from April 11-14. 

    Teachers will continue to prepare for teaching in a block schedule throughout the remainder of the year, over the summer and into the 2022-23 school year.
  • Q What happens to seventh-period athletics?

    Students who are part of an athletic team that currently utilizes seventh period for an Advanced P.E. class will still do so. Because of the rotating A Day/B Day schedule, that will take place at the end of the school day during either Period 4 on A Days or Period 7 on B Days. Both of those periods can roll into a defined athletics period (after regular dismissal) that teams may utilize.
  • Q How will students be able to focus through an 80-minute lecture?

    In short, they won’t. Our professional development has emphasized how to structure class time differently during longer class meetings. This includes how to keep students actively engaged with the content and how to balance direct instruction with new ways for students to demonstrate understanding. While there is value in lectures from knowledgeable teachers, there are limitations to how long students (or adults for that matter) can maintain attention. We also know students retain more information and gain deeper understanding when they actively engage with the class material rather than passively take it in. Eighty-minute periods will allow for a variety of activities within a single class period.

    It is also worth noting that our summer school classes have been 4.5 hours long for the last 20 years and teachers have adjusted their plans each June to make use of the large blocks of time. This has served as a good indicator that our students can be successful in longer classes.
  • Q What if a student has a free/flex period?

    Like we do now, some students will have Flex periods built into their schedules next year. Those students are encouraged to find a quiet, productive space on campus and use the time for school work. There are ample indoor and outdoor locations around campus available for student use. We have worked to extend wifi to outdoor locations in recent years and will make additional upgrades this summer. 

    We also know that teachers will at times be absent due to retreats, sports, conferences, illness, etc. When that happens students are often released to a Flex period at the teacher’s discretion to work on their own or with classmates. As with scheduled Flex periods, those students should find a productive spot to work around campus. 

    This is another area where professional development over the last year will help. Teachers have been developing new ways for students to demonstrate understanding whether they are in person or working “asynchronously” outside of class. The expectation has always been for teachers to leave work for students who are on Flex and students should know they are responsible for completing that work. But we know if the deadline isn’t until a day or two later, it can be tempting for students to procrastinate and put that work off. We are now asking teachers not only to leave meaningful work for students who are released to Flex, but also incorporate ways to hold students accountable to that work by the end of the scheduled class time. That will most often happen through Canvas — our Learning Management System — or a variety of other educational technology tools.
  • Q What if students have multiple Flex periods within one day? Can they leave campus?

    We ask teachers who are absent to leave meaningful work for their students and require students to complete that work during their scheduled class time. The addition of community periods next school year and the development of our team system for all students will create additional important opportunities for students to engage with each other during the day. Because of this, our current policies will remain in place and we will not allow students to leave campus in the event they have a day with multiple Flex periods.
  • Q What will happen during community periods?

    The addition of community periods will allow us to plan co-curricular activities and events that would normally disrupt the daily schedule or be squeezed in during lunch, break or outside of regular school hours. These will now take place during scheduled blocks within the regular period rotation and will foster community in ways we have not been able to do because of time constraints. 

    There will be three 80-minute community periods in every two-week cycle. We will rotate between periods for club meetings and intramurals, meetings with advisors/counselors and teachers for office hours, liturgies and programming from the Office of Faith and Justice, assemblies, rallies and other special sessions like the Summit on Human Dignity keynotes and grade-level specific programming.
  • Q What is the team system?

    All students will be placed into one of eight campus-wide teams (each named after a Jesuit saint). These eight teams will be further broken down into 64 sub-teams with an adult “capitan.” This will create a homeroom of sorts to help facilitate and give structure to the community period. 

    This is a system we have used informally for several years with freshmen and Big Brothers that we are excited to formalize. We believe the team system will enhance the connectedness and camaraderie among students of all grade levels by giving them smaller groups that they can take pride in and form relationships with. The team system will allow us to “gamify” many of the initiatives and programs we have on campus to encourage participation. We hope this creates friendly competition between the students of the 64 sub-teams and provides another opportunity for students and teachers to connect in meaningful ways outside of the context of a traditional classroom. The program will also enhance the leadership of the Big Brother program by giving those student leaders more meaningful work throughout the duration of the school year.