It has been just under a year since the upper-school administration implemented a new schedule and Academic Support Block (ASB), moving away from a quarter-based system into a semester-based schedule.
Originally, ASB set a block of time for students to meet with teachers once per day, providing opportunities for students to receive extra help. Upper School Head Mr. Mark Fifer, one of the architects of ASB, believes that, based on his own experiences, the period had mixed uses.
“At least, in my class, I saw students scheduling appointments with other teachers, which was good to see. Maybe sometimes, students used it as a break after seventy-five minutes of class, and not as productively as we would have liked,” Mr. Fifer said.
After a year’s worth of experience with the new structure, students are still mixed in opinion about which schedule they prefer.
Fourth Former Alex Borghese believes ASB was positive.
“The addition of ASB into the Haverford schedule was probably the best change I have seen implemented in the upper school,” Borghese said. “It’s a great time to either get work done or have a good time with my friends.”
Fifth Former Anthony Carter is also happy with the addition of ASB.
“It gave us more time to complete our work and an allotted block period to meet with teachers to ask them whatever questions you had,” Carter said. “I used ASB this year to do any homework that I didn’t complete the night before or wanted to do for future classes, meet with teachers about my grades, take tests/quizzes that I missed the day for, and give presentations that I missed.”
On the other hand, Fourth Former Conor McDonald is critical of ASB. He wished that there was a bit more schedule flexibility.
“It often felt like some of the Reflections and presentations during Community time were rushed in order to get back to ASB on time,” McDonald said. “But when Community ran into ASB, it was hard to get work done because ASB would only be twenty or so minutes long.”
When students have homework or meetings during ASB, it can often skew their plans and schedules, forcing them to scramble to reschedule appointments and find times in their busy days.
Another criticism of ASB is the lack of freedom, when some students have little-to-no work.
“I think more freedom during ASB would improve it tremendously, as it would feel more like a free block,” Borghese said. “It could serve as both a time to catch up or as a way to relax for a bit before heading off to class again.”
“While most teachers don’t mind if you leave the classroom after checking in with them and they have nothing for you to do, some teachers make you stay in the room the whole time and/or mark you absent if you miss ASB, resulting in a lunch detention,” Carter said. “I think this is pretty pointless, because if you don’t have any work that you need to do, you shouldn’t have to stay in the room.”
Some groups like the Notables use ASB as a time to rehearse. Carter found it was often a hassle to get excused from ASB and get over to the music room in time for rehearsal. He hopes that in the future, more flexibility will be allowed during ASB.
“If you’re still on campus, I don’t think it really matters where you go specifically, since many teachers let you do it anyway after you check in,” Carter said.
Like Carter, many students use ASB as a time to participate and meet for other extra-curricular activities that they cannot do after school because of other commitments like sports.
“Sometimes I want to work in the robotics shop during ASB because I can’t after school because of crew,” McDonald said. “However, teachers often don’t let me.”
Mr. Fifer and the administration are cautious to make any major changes.
“I think that ASB needs to have some parameters. The intention of this block was not to make it a break for students. If you pull off the parameters, more and more students will use the time improperly,” Mr. Fifer said.
However, Mr. Fifer is willing to open up the period to certain students.
“We can look at and think about how we can gradually take some of the parameters away, based on things like age level and the student’s standing in the course, so there are definitely opportunities to open the period up,” Mr. Fifer said.
Mr. Fifer is against the idea of making the block a true “free” period.
Over the summer, Mr. Fifer hopes to consolidate feedback from teachers and students alike to determine his next moves in refining ASB.
“[The teachers] are going to reflect over the summer,” Mr. Fifer said, “and we’re going to discuss the feedback of students and our own experiences and make a change where necessary.”