Lately, there has been much angst and confusion within the halls of AHS. You may ask, about what? Well, the answer is quite obvious – the new 7+H schedule. In order to give students a more in-depth look into the 7+H schedule, we will be examining the “H-Block”, otherwise known as the advisory component of the schedule.
The H-Block is a “youth enrichment seminar”, otherwise known as Y.E.S. The H-Block is an advisory period that aims to encourage academic growth. At the same time it tries to incorporate a social and emotional piece to it. The students will be with same faculty advisor for the entirety of their time at Andover High School. The goal is to have one faculty adviser per fifteen students. The students will meet with their advisors on the first H-Block of every eight day rotation. Together, the student and the advisor will schedule where the student will be and what he or she will be doing during the remaining H-Blocks for the week. During the H-Block, students can choose to work with teachers in classes that they are struggling in, meet with a club or club advisor, or just simply do homework. The expectation is that during the H-Block students will be able to work on whatever is necessary for their academic growth.
The main advantage of the H-Block is that students have an opportunity to get extra help, enrichment, and just plain old “get your work done” time during school. The fact that the H-Block fosters scholarly development by offering such opportunities seems to appeal to all teachers. Mr. Hopkins said, with regards to the advisory, “There are different possibilities that have been brought up, like extra help time and group work on projects overseen by teachers, and I think that could be very practical and useful.” Similarly, Ms. Breen said, “I think that a lot of extra help could be given during [the H-Block]. It’s definitely looking at an academic approach.” The in-school factor makes the H-Block even more beneficial as it allows teachers to help students who are usually not able to stay after school. As Ms. Caverly states, “It’s a time where students can complete make-up work and not miss their buses home and teachers can give students help with their academic work.” Ms. Adams supports this opinion, stating the H-Block “is a chance for teachers to help students that wouldn’t be able to come after school or to reach certain kids that don’t always have rides – that sort of thing.”
While the main goal of the H-Block is to promote academic growth, another goal is to build upon student-teacher relationships. When asked about this aspect of the H-Block, Ms. McVeigh, who has been an integral part of the advisory committee, said “The point is to form authentic student-teacher relationships, not forced ones. Eventually, we hope that the students will feel a stronger connection to [the] teacher that is their advisor and this advisor will stay with these students during the four years of high school.”
Requesting a teacher as your advisor is not likely to be a possibility. Ms. McVeigh commented on this detail of the advisory saying, “I think that for certain students who will be seniors next year, yes, they have made relationships with teachers already, but it wouldn’t hurt to get to work with someone new, even if it’s just for a year. Also, if you really like a teacher, you could just book yourself with that teacher every once and a while. But I think the teacher-student relationship part is for the students that are currently missing out on it and for the other students its more about the academic piece.”
Another projected benefit of the H-Block is that it will very likely reduce stress levels. Ms. Breen voices this thought stating, “I think that our stress levels and anxiety levels here at Andover High are really high and I think that the advisory will just alleviate some of that. Overall, I think it [would] just bring a calmness to the day.” In accordance with Ms. Breen, Mrs. Caverly, who has worked on the advisory committee for two years says “I think that it will give an opportunity for students and teachers to get to know each other better in a relaxed setting so that we can reduce stress in the building.” The general conclusion among teachers is that a built-in block for improving academics may very well help reduce the tension within the halls of AHS.
There may be a few disadvantages with the establishment of this advisory block. The biggest seem to be the technological challenges that will be faced at the beginning of the implementation of this schedule. When asked about any other foreseeable problems with the H-Block, Ms. McVeigh stated, “I think [kids not being where they are supposed to be] could become an issue”. To prevent such issues, the H-Block would count as a partial-credit class in which the student either passes or fails based on attendance.
The H-Block is a built in academic period in the new 7+H schedule, a block in which students decide where they will be and what they will be working on with their advisor. It aims to promote academic growth, foster student-teacher relationships, and reduce stress levels within AHS. There will be disadvantages and there may be mixed opinions, but now all we can do is wait for it to be implemented.
By Amrutha Palaniyappan