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Late start Mondays changes schedule

For teacher collaboration, six Mondays during year will shift class start time to 10:15 a.m.
Art by Anya Rasmussen

To provide more time for teacher collaboration, PAUSD added six late-start Mondays to the school calendar. For Paly students, this means the third Monday of each month will start at 10:15 a.m., classes will meet in 35-minute blocks and the school day will end at 3:50 p.m.
Principal Brent Kline said the schedule changed to give teachers time to collaboratively review curriculum and track student academic growth. During these Mondays, Kline said teachers will use evaluations of student progress to improve instructional practice.
“The purpose of it is to continue to provide our teachers opportunities to develop their craft and align their work and thinking with building goals for student achievement,” Kline said. “The cycle of learning includes how they assess students and how we change our practice based upon our assessments.”
History teacher Adam Yonkers said he is optimistic about the new opportunities to discuss with his colleagues. He said he particularly appreciates the addition of these late-start days because the district previously gave staff a limited amount of time to meet for group discussions.
“In my history of being a teacher here, there hasn’t been a lot of carved out time to work with a team of teachers, and I welcome more time,” Yonkers said. “(Late Start Monday) is a change that’s going to give teachers more of a chance to collaborate, which is always good in terms of getting teachers to talk to each other about what’s working and what’s not.”
Similarly, School Board President Jennifer Dibrienza said the current periodic staff collaboration meetings, called Professional Learning Communities, are too short. She said this newly allocated collaboration time will give teachers a chance to adjust their practices.
“When we are talking about different initiatives, whether it’s adopting a new curriculum, grading practices or issues of equity, there was not a lot of time for the staff to get together and do that work,” Dibrienza said.
Junior Keerath Pujji said the schedule change is also favorable for students because Mondays tend to be more demanding.
“Mondays are typically very stressful days because it’s the start of the week, and you always get more homework than normal days,” Pujji said. “Having buffer time to be able to sleep in and to start the week positively is going to be great.”
Freshman Dante Velasquez isn’t quite as enthusiastic about the change. He said while he will enjoy the opportunity to sleep in, he is concerned about the disruption a different start time could create in students’ weekly routines.
“A lot of people might come to school late and some people might not be able to have their parents drive them,” Velasquez said.
And Yonkers said he knows there will be initial obstacles formed by 35-minute class periods, but said teachers will eventually adapt.
“It will be an adjustment because any sort of change to the schedule always creates a bit of short-term disruption,” Yonkers said. “But long term, it seems like a good idea.”
Dibrienza said the difference from the normal 45-minute Monday classes is minor.
“Teachers will probably use (shorter class periods) as a time to check in with students, do something small and have some more face time with their students, but it is not that different.” she said.
Ultimately, Dibrienza said the additional teacher collaboration time will produce a positive outcome for both students and teachers.
“Teachers serve students better when they work with other teachers, exchange ideas and work together to come up with plans.” Dibrienza said. “The schedule change will serve everybody. Teachers will feel more prepared and students will get a better experience.”

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