By Sidney Taylor.
Here at Heritage Academy, there are many things that make this school unique. From the strict dress code to the environment of the student body and even the facility, Heritage differs from most normal schools in the area. But one major difference Heritage has is the A/B Schedule. While most high schools follow a 5-day week schedule, Heritage only has school Monday through Thursday. Even with this shortened week, they still offer eight class schedules and extra electives for all their students To compensate for the time lost in not having a Friday, school starts at 8 AM and ends at 3:30 PM, adding an extra half hour to a normal high school day and every class is an hour and a half long. Part of the A/B schedule is splitting the eight classes in your schedule into “A Days” and “B Days”. Mondays and Wednesdays are the “A Days” while Tuesdays and Thursdays are “B Days”. This means that you will have the same four classes on Mondays and Wednesdays while having your other four classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For example, let’s say you signed up for the following classes: Released Time, Swim Team, Chemistry, American History, Spanish II, Piano, Pre-Calculus, and British Literature. You have three electives (Release Time, Swim Team, and Piano) as well as all your core classes. Then, when you receive your schedule through PowerSchool, it will be separated into A Days and B Days. So, on A Days, every Monday and Wednesday, you would have Release Time, Swim Team, Chemistry, and American History, while on B Days, every Tuesday and Thursday, you would have Spanish II, Piano, Pre-Calculus, and British Literature. Everyone at Heritage loves the A/B schedule because it gives you more time in each individual class so you can cover more content in one sitting as well as more time on your weekends to work or have fun. It also allows more days to complete homework. Because of this, many Heritage students fall down the slippery slope of procrastination that is made readily available by the A/B schedule, and they end stress themselves out by saving their already hard homework until the night before. Here are three tips to help you balance your homework load and manage your time effectively here at Heritage through the A/B Schedule.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
In 7th grade, every student receives an agenda and is asked to use it to record homework and project due dates. But, as the student enters high school, they are no longer spoonfed time management plans. I have seen many students, myself included, say “Oh I’ll do that tomorrow. It’s not due until Thursday anyway” and then find themselves cramming all their B Day homework Wednesday night at 11:50 PM. My suggestion to anyone that finds themselves in this boat is to plan ahead. Get an agenda or calendar of some sort, whether it be on your phone or on your wall, and schedule out your homework sessions. View it as a job. If you are scheduled to work, but then your friend calls and wants to hang out, you can’t skip work or else you would be fired. Schedule a block of time to focus on just homework and commit to yourself that you will focus for the time. Then, actually do it. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, turn on some relaxing music, grab a snack, and hardcore focus. Then, when the time you blocked out is up, take a break, check your phone, stretch, call that friend that wanted to hang out. It is better to have an intense focus session for a solid hour than an on and off focus for three. As I have done this, I have found that I do better on my assignments; I learn more and retain the information better, and I have more time in my day to do things that I love.
Tip #2: Prioritize:
Now, I know planning ahead doesn’t always work out. Emergencies come up, things happen that we can’t change, or we just get lazy. But when it comes down to crunch time, we still have to get the assignments done. Here is an example to illustrate a situation like this: It’s Tuesday night. You had planned to finish your English 101 paper during Mathlab but ended falling asleep for most of the hour. After school, you had basketball practice until 5:30 PM but it held over late so you didn’t get home until 6:30 PM and by the time you have finished showering and eating dinner, it is already 7:30 PM. Your mom reminds you that you have to take your sister to school early to get tutoring and that you have a basketball game the next day so you should probably get to bed before 10 PM. You are too tired to think, and you have no idea how you will get your paper for English 101, your ACT math packet for Pre-Calculus, and your 2 pages of Econ done before 10 PM. I, like many of you, have experienced this moment of pivotable stress and exhaustion. So, what is the best way to utilize your time when it seems like you have no time left? The answer is to prioritize. Evaluate your classes and which assignments will more heavily impact your grade. Generally, I will prioritize my Dual Enrollment classes over my electives because the grades I get in those classes affect my college grades as well as my high school grades. But when all assignments seem to have equal weight and I don’t know what is more important, I make, what my dad calls, a frog list. A frog list is a to-do list, that starts with the hardest, most time-taking and energy-draining assignment, to the easiest assignment. The hardest assignment is called ‘the frog’ and it should be the first thing you do. After you conquer your ‘frog’ all the other assignments will be easier and you can finish them quicker. So, referring to the example from before, your frog might be your English 101 paper. You know that it needs a ton of work and will heavily affect your grade, so this is what you need to do first. Then, once you finish your frog, you decide that you will do half of your math homework tonight, and then, while your sister is at tutoring, finish the rest. Then, since you have Econ after lunch, you will use any spare time between classes and at lunch to complete your Econ homework. As you prioritize your time and your classes, crunch time will become less stressful and you will be able to get it all done.
Tip #3: Use Your Fridays
Woohoo! It’s Friday! Party time, right? Well, sometimes. Fridays are the secret weapon given to all Heritage students. Many see it as a day off of school to relax and mess around with friends. But really it is meant to be a homework day. Heritage Academy does not hide the fact that there is a lot of homework, but they also provide time on Fridays for their students to complete it. Now, I am not saying that you should never party on Friday. I love a good party and hanging out with friends is one of my favorite things to do. But I am saying that we should evaluate our time and use it in the most effective way. If you finish all your homework Friday morning, you don’t have your homework looming over you all weekend, waiting for you to finish it all on Sunday night. Fridays are also a great time to schedule group projects with other students and finish assignments together. Then, you have Friday night and all of Saturday to hang out with your friends and do the things you love
The A/B schedule is like a double-edged sword. It can be a useful tool in effectively getting homework done and utilizing time, or it can feed procrastination and lead students to stress out more than they need to. If you are a new seventh grader or even a new student trying to adjust to Heritage life, try implementing these tips in your life now to help manage the homework load and prevent excessive stress. If you are a long-time student, try out these tips as well and see if they improve your high school experience. As you use these three tips, you will champion the A/B schedule, use your time to your advantage, and cause less stress in your life.