Last year, our high schools began piloting flexible schedules for some students. The idea behind the program is to work with students who have circumstances that get in the way of regular attendance so they can still find success in the classroom.
“It gives the students the ability to be flexible in their learning strategies, as well as the time they put in the classroom.” said Spanaway Lake High School teacher Benjamin Graver, who teaches some students using flexible schedules.
“If you have a job that you have to get to, if you have younger siblings you have to take care of, if you go to Running Start — we want you to have the ability to be in class, when it’s necessary,” he said.
It’s that phrase, “when it’s necessary” that is key. And that can be different for each individual student and teacher. “That could be 2 or 3 days a week, one day a week even, and the rest of the time you’re learning on your own and at your pace, and in your own way outside of class,” Graver said.
While a flexible schedule is convenient, staff are working to make sure students are still held to the same academic standards as the rest of their class. They are assigned the same homework, quizzes, projects and tests as students on normal schedules.
Dr. Jennifer Bethman, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools, says they are still feeling the FLEX program out. She said students need to be self-motivated for the program to work. “If you’re not doing well, the teacher’s going to tell you to be there every day,” she said.
Graver said the FLEX program couldn’t work without Bethel’s 1:1 iPad initiative that puts school iPads in the hands of all students. “We have to have technology in the FLEX program, because they’re working so much outside of class,” he said. “There has to be a Canvas course or something set up so they can utilize those tools in learning that information. Whether it’s an online textbook, modules they work through, it’s all heavily based on technology.”
Technology isn’t the future anymore. It’s in our educational system now, and it’s here to stay. That’s why Bethman would like to see every student take at least one online course during their high school career. “That’s the world we live in now. We all have to take online courses, and it’s a skill that needs to be learned,” she said.
Juniors and seniors interested in the FLEX program should talk with their counselors to get more information.