Time and Schedules

Time at school (teaching rhythms and class duration) is a defining constituent of the learning process. The optimal mix varies with each discipline and grade level. The School has a long-standing involvement in evaluating the impact of scheduling changes and adjusting its practices to empirical analysis and current research. The current configuration was implemented in 2008 (Secondary School) and in 2011 (Primary School).

Primary School

School begins at 8:30 am and finishes at 3:15 pm every day except Wednesday when classes end at 12:30 pm. The lunch period ends at 1:15 pm. Finishing early – by French standards – allows children to participate in Afterschool Clubs or activities at school or independently.

Secondary School

In Secondary School, schedules vary and lessons last either 45 minutes or 90 minutes, compared to the traditional 55 minutes of French schools. Double periods are used for science labs and with increasing frequency in other subjects as students grow. In Upper School almost all lessons are double periods.

Switching from 55-minute to 45-minute periods lightened student schedules by about five hours per week and provided time for interdisciplinary projects, electives and workshops. Several school-wide projects were made possible by this reallocation of time, for example:

  • DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) sets aside a 45-minute period every day when students gather in special classrooms, comfortably furnished with Fatboys®, and read. A teacher is with them, partaking in this ritual. Students read for pleasure from a list of some 200 books developed by teachers, enriched by students, and loosely connected to the English or to the French literature or History curriculum. DEAR provides students an opportunity to step back, slow down, and enjoy the pleasure of reading. While the DEAR website encourages reader’s comments and ratings, there is no evaluation aside from the posting of books read.
  • Historical cross-perspectives: In 8th and 9th grade, students study History in French and in English. Two different cultural perspectives emerge spontaneously from this dual instruction, but the shortening of lesson periods also makes time available for both teachers to be present together from time to time and let students probe their contrasting perspectives on significant themes such as, for example, the French Revolution or colonization (and decolonization).
  • Math facts lab is a complement to the Math curriculum from 6th to 10th grade, focusing on the acquisition of deep fluency in the building blocks of math reasoning. As these tasks become automatic and fluency is achieved, students can turn to higher-level cognitive tasks.
  • Office Hours: As students mature, they develop more autonomy and increasingly take charge of their own learning. In Upper School, Office Hours are available to students who can come – individually or in small groups –, ask questions, review a test, explore an advanced topic, and more generally interact with teachers on their own initiative.
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