Wilton High School explores new bell schedule

Wilton High School is in the process of designing a new bell schedule that will “enhance teaching and learning” and “make school more effective for students in the 21st Century,” Principal Bob O’Donnell announced in a Nov. 20 letter to students and families.

Since last December, school-based bell schedule committees have been exploring different bell schedules that would “best support student learning and high quality teaching,” said O’Donnell. Committee members have even visited other schools to witness the impact of different bell schedules.

Not only have “many faculty members” been involved in the exploration process, said O’Donnell, but “all academic departments have been well represented” and “some parents and students” were involved in the early phases.

The Wilton High School committees focused on the school’s bell schedule are the Bell Schedule Review Committee and the Bell Schedule Design Committee. The review committee includes 21 faculty members, four parents and five students while the design committee is comprised of 20 faculty members.

“We researched, explored, and ruled out many schedules that we felt would not support the fulfillment of our WHS vision statement, core values and beliefs, and 21st Century learning expectations,” said O’Donnell.

At this point, according to O’Donnell, faculty members have reached a consensus that an alternating block schedule should be designed and adopted with classes meeting “every other day for longer periods of time.”

O’Donnell said its important for members of the school community to recognize that “there is no single schedule that will please everybody, but there are many perceived advantages of an alternating block schedule,” including:

  • “Slowing down the frenetic pace of the school day for students and teachers;

  • Students and teachers being required to prepare for fewer classes each night;

  • Less physical and cognitive transitions; longer class periods in which teachers and students can personalize learning and learn and understand at a deeper level; and

  • More time to build relationships between students and teachers.”

Wilton Public Schools and the Wilton High School PTSA support the bell schedule change, said O’Donnell, and the high school has been “working closely with the Wilton Education Association.”

“An important step in this process will be for us to present the schedule to the Board of Education Teaching and Learning Committee for their review, and then to the full Board of Education,” said O’Donnell.

O’Donnell said he is “very intent on sharing further information about the schedule” with students and their families as progress through the process continues.