JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS’ EXPERIENCES OF THE SEVEN-DAY CYCLE SCHEDULE SCHEMEBackground and Statement of the Problem Scheduling is a crucial aspect of the operation of an educational institution (Boergers et al. 2014, Wahlstrom et al. 2014). It is an element that affects the success of educational production in terms of student achievement, teachers’ well being, and achievement of the school’s vision and mission. When this element is not studied carefully, chances are it may lead to higher drop-out rates of students, resignation of personnel, and failure to meet goals (Hinrichs, 2011).
According to Hackmann and Valentine (2013), scheduling facilitates the achievement of school’s goals and purposes. Essentially, it is the foundation for any curricular program. Conversely, a poorly developed model will not only undermine a faculty’s efforts to implement effective programs, it can actually interrupt practices that have already progressed through time since they were implemented. During 1990’s, studies on alternative school scheduling options boomed in the United States of America and other parts of Europe.
For instance, a study on teachers’ perception of block scheduling by Brown (2001) noted that there is indeed a need to modify the traditional school schedules to meet the needs of both teachers and students. Alternative scheduling answered the many issues corresponding to the experiences of teachers and students in a school that follow a weekday-based schedule. Research by Caine and Caine (1995), Gardner (1983), and Jacobs (1989) suggested alternatives to the secondary school scheduling norm. However, very few middle schools changed from the typical six-to-seven period day (Brown, 2001). This is due to the low acceptance of academic leaders of a flexible scheduling scheme. School time effectiveness has been the goal of the educational leaders since the modern era. The school schedule that most schools around the globe use today is still based on the Carnegie Unit, developed in the late 1800s, featuring a structured scheduling format. In this scheme, each subject is allotted a 50-minute period daily. Teachers only teach their specialization to maximize student achievement.In 1958 J. Lloyd Trump in his article entitled An Image of the Future proposed flexible and unstructured scheduling scheme. This one is used in the many colleges around the world. European and American schools followed this format. However, high school students were not able manage the unstructured environment effectively. In the 1970s the Open School concept and fluid block scheduling were introduced. Neither concept was deemed satisfactory (Schroth, 2010). The zero period schedule was introduced in the late 1980s. An extra class period was added at the beginning of the regular school day. Thus, students could elect to take more classes or leave early. Daniel (2007) explained in his study the importance of flexibility in school scheduling. According to him, effectiveness of scheduling should meet the needs of each individual in an educational institution. That is to give ease for the teachers and students. He theorized that flexible scheduling adapts to the creation of an environment that recognizes individuality. Flexibility of the schedule also serves to ease the transition of students from the self-contained elementary environment to the highly departmentalized high school environment. Teachers are able to use time wisely to improve their teaching strategies and enhance curricular integration (DeRouen, 1998; Seed, 1998). Teachers are directly involved with students and are the best judges of time requirements for learning activities. Blocks of time enable them to make choices and have more control over the learning environment.In the case of the Philippines, school scheduling should be scrutinized in such a way that it can go hand in hand with the implementation of the K to 12 Curriculum. Most schools in the country implements the weekday schedule scheme. That is, schools follow a Monday to Friday-based schedule. Scrutinizing the effects of this scheme, it can be inferred that it is no longer healthy for the students, teachers, and the implementation of the curriculum.Philippines is a country in the Pacific region, and is also located along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Thus, it is obvious that it is prone to calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes, and floods. Classes are suspended every now and then. The weekday-based schedule scheme is widely used in public and private schools (Macha, Mackie, & Magaziner, 2018). Each subject lasts for 40 to 50 minutes. The usual schedule is as follows:Table 1. Sample Weekday-based SchedulePeriod Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday1st Science Science Science Science Science2nd AP AP Science Filipino APRECESS3rd Filipino Music Arts PE Filipino4th TLE Filipino Filipino AP TLELUNCH5th English English English English English6th Math Math Math Math Math7th Character Ed. Character Ed. Study Period HealthHOMEROOMBased on the table, if a class with a contact time of two hours per week is hit by a class suspension, students will already lose a significant amount of time for their class.During the term of Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Republic Act No. 9492 or popularly known as Holiday Economics Policy was implemented. Under this policy, the government will adjust holidays to form longer weekends. In fact, as published in Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, usually eight holidays fall on a Monday and five fall on a Friday. In 2008 for example, Independence day was moved to June 9 instead of June 12 because June 9 fell on a Monday. The effect of which is that those subjects which only meet on Mondays and Fridays will be the one affected primarily by holidays. As a result, those subjects lose a significant amount of time per year. With these, there is a need to propose a new scheduling scheme.A seven day cycle scheduling scheme is hereby being proposed as an alternative scheduling scheme. A seven-day rotation does not mean there are now seven school days in a week. Instead of defining a week as Monday through Friday, it takes seven days labeled Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, and Day 7 and uses them as a cycle throughout the school year. So, Day 1 may fall on a Monday one week and it may be a Thursday on another week. The important piece is to know which day in the cycle we are on versus which day of the week it is.Table 2. Sample 7-Day Cycle ScheduleAugust 2018Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday1 DAY 1 2 DAY 2 3 DAY 3 45 6 DAY 4 7 DAY 5 8 DAY 6 9 DAY 7 10 CLASS SUSPENSION 1112 13 DAY 1 14 DAY 2 15 DAY 3 16 DAY 4 17 DAY 5 1819 20 DAY 6 21 Ninoy Aquino Day 22 DAY 7 23 DAY 1 24 DAY 2 2526 27 National Heroes Day 28 DAY 3 29 DAY 4 30 DAY 5 31 DAY 6 Table 2 shows how the seven day rotating schedule scheme works in a country that has many holidays and class suspensions. For instance, based on the table, the schedule for August 10 is supposed to be Day 1. However, due to a class suspension, Day 1 was moved to August 13. Statement of the Problem and Research QuestionsThe focus of this study is to lay out the perspectives of teachers on the implementation of a rotational scheduling scheme in the form of a seven-day cycle schedule. Specifically, it sought to answer the following questions:How does the 7-day cycle affect the teachers’ work performance, teaching load, and schedule?How does the 7-day cycle help in improving instruction?What are the challenges in implementing the 7-day cycle schedule scheme?Research MethodologyThis research used a qualitative case study design to bring out the perspectives and experiences of teachers on the implementation of the seven day cycle as a scheduling scheme. The population covered by this study was the eighty two junior high school teachers of one of the private schools in San Juan City, Metro Manila. This school has been following the seven day cycle scheduling scheme since 2010. To gather data, the researcher used stratified random sampling to determine which members of the population to study. Out of the eighty two junior high school teachers, twelve teachers were chosen as the representatives of the whole population. That is, three from grade 7, 8, 9, and 10, respectively. The researcher used unstructured interview as the data collection scheme. Findings and DiscussionResearch Question: How does the 7-day cycle affect the teachers’ work performance, teaching load, and schedule?The following is a sample teaching load of a teacher handling five sections. Each class meets five (5) times a week. Each meeting is equivalent to fifty (50) minutes.Table 3. Sample Teaching Load in a Weekday-based SchedulePeriod Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday1st 7A 7A 7A 7A 7A2nd 7B 7B 7B 7B 7BRecess3rd 7C 7C 7C 7C 7C4th Lunch5th 7D 7D 7D 7D 7D6th 7E 7E 7E 7E 7E7th 8th Table 4. Sample Teaching Load in a 7-Day SchedulePeriod Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 71st 7A 7A 7A 7A 7A 2nd 7B 7B 7B 7B 7B Recess3rd 7C 7C 7C 7C 7C4th Lunch5th 7D 7D 7D 7D 7D6th 7E 7E 7E 7E 7E7th Based on the tables, a teacher handling five sections under the 7-day cycle schedule will have three to four hours contact time with the students per day and 4-5 hours to prepare for the lessons. This helps the teacher have a sufficient time to prepare for the lessons and check assessments. As a result, teachers can still have more time to spend with their families and do whatever they want to do after their dismissal. Whereas, teachers under the weekday-based schedule will have five (5) sessions per day. Data from the interviews revealed that ten (10) out of the twelve (12) respondents agree that it is better to have four (4) sessions per day with a duration of one (1) hour per session than have five (5) fifty (50) minute sessions per day. Seven (7) respondents said that it is easy to condition oneself on the schedule after an interruption. For instance, if there is a class suspension, a teacher already knows that the next session will be the supposed schedule of the suspended class day. Six (6) respondents said that less teaching load for the teachers leads to more quality output while five (5) said that the teachers of subjects meeting twice or thrice a week will not wait for long to implement a lesson. All of them said that in a seven day cycle, there is more time to rest per day.Research Question: How does the 7-day cycle help in improving instruction?All of the respondents said that due to longer periods per session, teachers are enjoined to develop lessons that are student centered. This results from the fact that in a weekday-based schedule, 50 minutes is allotted for each session to accommodate the many subjects offered by the schools. Ten (10) respondents mentioned that due to the seven day cycle, minimum instructional time is wasted. Whereas, five (5) of them said that most activities can be done inside the classroom, thus students have less burden after class.Research Question: What are the challenges in implementing the 7-day cycle schedule scheme?The three most mentioned challenges in implementing the seven-day cycle schedule scheme are revision of the subject matter budget, curriculum acceptance of the students and parents, and making sure that the lessons are finished per quarter despite the movement of schedules. ConclusionsThe seven-day cycle scheduling scheme can be considered by most schools in the Philippines because of its advantages to the school and the teachers. Primarily, teachers’ work performance is enhanced due to less teaching load and longer time outside the classroom. Due to this scheduling scheme, teachers are somehow forced to prepare lessons that are student-centered. 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