Trinity Junior High and High School are considering changes to their class schedule to best serve students and faculty, after the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction changed the requirements for academic instruction from 175 days to 1,050 hours.
“I think that gives principals an opportunity when they look at Monday through Friday, August through May, (to think about) what in Monday through Friday could change,” said Dean of Students, Fr. Kregg Hochhalter.
One of the options Trinity is considering is a four-day school week.
"Four days is such a lightening rod … that's one of many possibilities. Four-day is just such a leading factor because from what I know, schools that have gone to four-day weeks have found a lot of success," Fr. Hochhalter said.
It isn’t the only option the school is considering, however.
“As much as a four-day conversation is alive at Trinity, so is a Thursday afternoon off, so is a Monday afternoon off. It’s one among many,” Fr. Hochhalter said. “As school administration, we have the responsibility of making sure that the five day weeks or a four day week or a later schedule or an earlier schedule is what best serves students and holds them accountable.”
Extra time allowed for by schedule changes could be used for professional development.
“That time would be allotted to one-on-one instruction for students, professional development for teachers, administrative collaboration, so more task forces and task-oriented meetings rather than just discussions,” Fr. Hochhalter said.
The school already uses its late start every Wednesday to add an additional 28 hours a year for professional development. Librarian and English teacher Rachel Ebach said that doing so provides follow-through that over professional development does not.
“The professional development that we are doing is the most effective because we’re all in it together, as opposed to professional development where one of us might go to this workshop and one of us might go to this workshop and there’s no follow-through,” she said. “We got to these workshops, we get all of these good ideas, but there’s really no one leading it or holding us accountable.”
Fr. Hochhalter said he would like to further increase the amount of professional development that the school’s teachers get a year.
“I think it’s really important that our teachers are trained and trained well,” he said. “They want more ideas on how to teach effectively. That’s the feedback I’m getting. I think that’s K-12 that teachers want to know how better to reach those difficult students … whether that’s instructional or different ways to assess, different ways to monitor, different ways to lecture.”