Published May 11, 2023
BY MAGGIE JOHNSTON
A new bell schedule was piloted at CHS for two weeks in April to collect data on whether students would use office hours more effectively in the midst of the school day rather than at the beginning, and the response is mixed.
A group of 15 Carmel High School staff members, under the original supervision of former CHS principal Jonathan Lyons, created this schedule over the course of months, taking feedback from students and staff with the goal of improving learning outcomes for students. This bell schedule team believes a schedule more like the pilot would be more equitable for students who take the bus to and from school and would also give all students the chance to use time at school more productively.
CHS French teacher Suzanne Marden has held a key role in planning and articulating the importance of trying out the new schedule.
“We cannot determine the start and end times of the school,” Marden says, “but we can determine what happens during the school day. We tried to take into account feedback from over the years while considering the instructional minutes that we are required.”
This pilot gave the bell schedule team the chance to test out a system that could potentially be put in place in the following years with a later start time. According to data taken this past fall, roughly 14 to 20 percent of the CHS student population went to office hours and signed in on the form.
Initial results from the surveys from the pilot show that that percentage nearly doubled when office hours arrived between classes rather than before them. Assistant principal Craig Tuana has helped the bell schedule team and has seen an increase in students using their time wisely during school.
“Seems like more students [were] utilizing office hours, which is what we wanted,” Tuana says. “The expectation wasn’t that everyone was going to use it for the whole time, but from my observations, I didn’t notice many students trying to leave campus.”
During the pilot, a 20-minute period of office hours on Wednesdays gave students time to check in with teachers or to take a moment to slow down before going to the next class. On Thursday, the office hours period was 40 minutes long, between second and fourth period blocks.
“I spent the entire time working on my essay,” junior Morgan Mayer says, “but I am an avid user of office hours in general, so I would have come to school anyway.”
While some are open to the idea of this new schedule, there are also some who believe this time would be best used if it were implemented back into class time. One CHS teacher has noticed that his typical office hours have an inconsistent number of students coming in to make up tests and hand in work. Some days his room will be full and other times not a single person will come in.
“Office hours, in general, is no longer something we should be doing,” this teacher indicates. “Office hours, for me, is the most stressful time of the entire week due to students coming in, all with different needs.”
Around campus, students congregated in the library and in classrooms during office hours to get work done and to
make up tests, but there were also many students who used the time to take a break from schoolwork to be social.
“I had a few seniors come in to ask me about plans for college,” Marden explains. “It gave students the chance to talk to me. Students need to form relationships with [their] teachers if [they’re] ever going to ask them for something in the future.”
What did you think about the attempted pilot schedule?
Hana Knoblich, junior
“I really enjoyed having office hours in the middle of the day because there is a certain mood and rhythm that you get into when you’re at school. I found that there were more things for me to do.”
Logan Phares, freshman
“The day felt really long with the new office hours. I sort of get how it can be helpful, but I just didn’t have much to do.”
Cullen Pritchard, sophomore
“I don’t think that this is enforcing kids who usually don’t go to office hours to go. If they want help, they will get help. For me, if I have a test or I have to make up work, then I will get up and be here at 7:45.”
Mya Schnader, senior
“It’s kind of weird. I didn’t feel as productive, and it sort of interfered with my day. If the system isn’t broken, I don’t
see a reason why it needs to be fixed.”
Andrea Smith, math teacher
“When students need to make up a test and plan to come in at office hours, I never have 100% attendance because they forget or an alarm doesn’t go off and they sleep in. But with this new office hours, everyone came since they were already at school. There was no excuse to miss it.”