“There’s no point in Flex Time if you’re just staying in a class that you don’t want to go to,” freshman Caitlin Smith said. “The point of Flex Times is to be able to go to the classes that you need help with and the teachers that you need to help you.” Closed Flex Times are inconvenient and unproductive, and they take time away from valuable—and flexible—open Flex Times.
We can broadcast information on emergency procedures more efficiently than by using closed Flexes, like the one we had on Thursday. This year, we’ve had several Zoom webinars during closed Flexes. These are significantly less disruptive than the class assemblies and emergency drills that preceded them, but they continue to detract from time that is productive for students.
Open Flex Times are extremely useful to students and teachers alike. Teachers can check in with students; students can go over concepts they do not understand, take or retake tests they missed, make up essays, get ahead on homework, attend club meetings, or create something in the Project Lab. I myself have done each of these things during Flex at some point.
AP Physics teacher Joseph Vanderway said, “There’s usually a lot of students here during Flex Time. They do test corrections, primarily. They also come in and get help on any work we’re doing: homework, studying for tests, or just catching up on something they may have missed—a lot of students do makeup labs.”
Sophomore Angelica Hernandez said, “I go to a chosen classroom that I really like and I do my work in it” during Flex Time.
Junior Josselyn Mariana Jimenez Avalos said, “When I have homework, I do homework during Flex Time, but when I don’t have anything to do, I just go to the classrooms and do anything.” Junior Jadith Candelaria Magana Diaz agreed, saying, “When I have homework, I go to do that homework.”
Closed Flex inconveniences students who planned to take advantage of Flex Time. It’s especially problematic for students who were absent, because it means that there are fewer opportunities to make up in-class assignments.
Hernandez said, “I don’t really like closed Flex. I feel like we should have an option of what classroom to go to so we can work on what we need to.”
When asked what they do during closed Flex, sophomore Luis Licea said, “I stay on my phone,” and both sophomore Miriam Izazaga and freshman Cristian Lemus responded, “Nothing.” In contrast, when asked what they do during open Flex, Izazaga and Lemus responded, respectively, “homework” and “classwork.”
Administration uses closed Flex to broadcast schoolwide webinars on topics like emergency preparedness, which is certainly important. However, freshman Juliana Kha said that, during closed Flex, “Nobody pays attention to the presentations anyway, and we don’t really get to do our homework or ask our teachers for help or anything.” There are other, less intrusive ways to make sure students are prepared for emergencies.
When possible, administrators should reduce the thirty-minute Flex webinars to ten minutes. Some parts, including when they talk about why they hold these webinars, are not essential. These would be better placed in a school email for students who want to know more. Admittedly, administrators will not be able to cover as much information in ten minutes as they do in thirty. This would nevertheless increase the webinar’s utility, as more students would pay attention.
Since these webinars would only take ten minutes, they could fit into a time slot that is currently underutilized. At the start of each semester, there are a few days during which the students who produce M-A Today! learn basic skills and the show does not air. Digital Communications & Video Streaming Teacher John Giambruno said that there are about “two to five [such] days depending on class size, bell schedules as they work with the class assembly schedule, bell schedule, and other factors.”
Currently, when M-A Today! does not broadcast, fourth period teachers often extend their class time. These extra ten minutes may not always benefit teachers, because they plan for fifty-minute lessons. If this time is instead used for schoolwide webinars, it will not inconvenience students or teachers.
If, as often as possible, we move these schoolwide webinars to these ten-minute slots at the beginning of each semester, we will have more Flex Times in which to study and create.