Champions of Change

A master calendar: Improving communication at BRHS

Fri, 07/26/2019 - 8:15am

This is the fifth of several feature articles we are publishing which were written by Boothbay Region High School’s AP Language students. According to BRHS AP Language teacher Mark Gorey, the articles are a different incarnation of their Champions of Change proposals. One of the requirements for this assignment was to cite research sources.

As Boothbay Region High School faces the challenge of declining enrollment, many students are being stretched thin with overlapping commitments to sports, clubs, and AP classes on top of regularly assigned homework and mandatory school meetings or events. With the issue of miscommunication and overlap in schedules facing a large percentage of students and even me personally, I believe the student body should have the ability to access a master calendar updated by teachers and staff that includes school-wide events, sports and extracurricular schedules, projects, and tests. Although teachers and staff may see updating a calendar as an inconvenience, a master calendar will allow for better school-wide communication, less overlap in schedules, and a decreased amount of stress in the student body.

As a student who has been enrolled in the Boothbay Region High School system for my entire high school career, I have witnessed first-hand the stressful overlap of multiple tests and grade-determining exams fall on the same day. As if I wouldn’t be up all night preparing for one after a sports practice or game, try preparing for multiple! I am not alone: about 86% of respondents on a school-wide survey responded that many of their assignments and tests overlap on the same day. Students are provided with a C.O.R.E. period for school work purposes each day to relieve some of the pressure of homework or making up missed work, but often times these work periods are interrupted by unexpected guidance meetings, assemblies, club or sports meetings, etc. When asked if students had adequate notice of C.O.R.E./school time events, about 64% of respondents in the same survey said “no.”

A few efforts have been made around the school to combat this issue, including the calendar on the school website, a dry-erase calendar in the library, and occasionally some announcements or email notifications. However, these calendars and announcements are rarely updated and contain more of a focus on sporting events rather than other club and school events or assignments. And even though announcements and work notifications are sent to students, these individual calendars can sometimes become neglected and students have to navigate all over the place to find what they are looking for in each class.

Our current BRHS technology integrator Abby Manahan has stated that “it would be great if teachers were all using a consistent learning management platform so that students would have that ability to look at each class, see what was happening, and then plan accordingly.”

In effort to fix this school-wide problem of miscommunication and schedule overlap, many efficient technological solutions are available. One option is actually a feature that has been ignored by our school, which is the built in Powerschool calendar feature. Our school already provides every student with a Powerschool account to view grades and our unique class schedules, and when assignments and tests are added to this electronic gradebook before the due date, they automatically show up on the calendar feature. With this unused feature at or disposal, teachers would merely have to add in assignments and tests beforehand, which they will eventually have to do anyway. But the problem with this feature and those similar like Google Classroom, is that even though this organizes school work and events for students, teachers have no access to a master copy to physically see the overlap on each day.

“Having a master calendar could really facilitate conversations among teachers, and teacher to teacher but also students to teachers” (Manahan). For this, I propose a master Google Calendar. This way, students can subscribe to certain classes and sports to be viewed on their own calendars, and teachers can view a master to oversee all events. A Google master calendar of this sort would allow for all types of events to be inputted, ranging from C.O.R.E. meetings to sports games, and giving students the chance to put their best effort into each commitment. With past efforts at an organization in school websites and other accounts failing from inattention, would a master calendar be easily maintained? Would this option be too time consuming for teachers to continually add and update events? Well, the Boothbay School system actually already uses a master Google Calendar, but it is only visible and accessible to teachers and staff. If teachers are able to consistently use a master calendar already, why not share one with students? Teachers are given ample time to input events during their one prep class period a day, or during locker break/ C.O.R.E. time, and it would be recommended that Principal Welch monitor the teachers and hold them accountable for putting in their events, who has voiced support for the topic.

But, our parents and grandparents survived high school without any sort of fancy schedule or calendar, why would one be so important for today’s youth at Boothbay Region? Well, with a technological device available to each and every student or staff member, we have the power today to easily integrate these devices and the potential they hold into many matters that previously haven’t been dealt with. It is extremely easy to make information on a calendar accessible to many, so why not take the chance to make the system easier? If we have the ability to make student life and scheduling easier and less stressful (better grades, healthier students, improved performance) in our school, our student body deserves that chance to be taken.

Another counterargument is that students should have to keep up with school time management themselves as they will need to do it when they are older. But with a smaller student population, students here are involved in much more than the average student, and there are many instances where miscommunication has led to an inability to complete school work. Many are also worried that the calendar will become too cluttered to be used effectively, but with the Google Calendar/Classroom system, students and staff can easily filter out the layers of information that they don’t want to see on their calendar or that aren’t relevant to them. In a very relevant sense, I had to reschedule one of my teacher interviews for this article because of a school-wide assembly that the student body was unaware of. With improved school-wide communication being tackled by a master calendar at no economic cost and hardly any time consumption, it seems the positives outweigh the negatives.

Boothbay Region High School has a wide range of offerings in both academic and extracurricular areas for the small student population it holds. With these many offerings comes the stress of overlapping events which can pile on to any student. With a master calendar, the Boothbay Region High School system can improve communication, reduce schedule overlap, and foster a less stressful student environment. With no economic cost and a blueprint of a master calendar already in place, why not give students the opportunity to put their best effort forth in and out of school?

Works Cited

Manahan, Abby. BRHS Tech Integrator. Personal Interview. April 30, 2019.

Merrill, Ingrid. BRHS Language Teacher/GAPP/Interact Advisor. Personal Interview. May 2, 2019.