Electives teachers might not have the same amount of homework to grade as English teachers; we might not feel pressured to cover the curriculum as a math teacher might feel. But despite the “fun” part of our jobs, we play an important role in helping our students to learn, to focus, and to achieve. Electives classes reveal the skill sets of some students that might not be obvious in their other classes, helping them see their strengths and affording them opportunities to be of value to their classmates. Reaching performance goals or learning a new language requires students to be organized, to set goals, and to evaluate if they’re meeting those goals.
Our middle school follows a schedule with seven periods each day. Students attend their team’s core classes for four of those periods, and are in electives and physical education classes for two periods each day. The seven-period schedule allows the teachers of core subjects to have a personal preparation period in addition to a grade level or team collaborative period every day. The seventh period is utilized for explorations classes and is also the time when classes made up of mixed grades can meet. Our school has been using this schedule for the past seven years, allowing us to follow a model for an effective middle school that also provides high quality professional development for the core teachers. While we have made great gains in our student achievement because of the increased collaboration time.