Homework horrors…?

Is new school year’s return to normality causing increased nightly workloads?

Throughout the various changes resulting from COVID-19, several high schools have adopted a block schedule (four periods a day), leaving the eight periods per day schedule behind. As classes have gone from  45 minutes to 75 minutes to 85 minutes, more material is being covered in each class, and teachers have the ability to assign more work. The question that comes with this new change is if students are now being given an increased homework load.
“The block schedule is nice because we have only three or four subjects a night instead of eight, but teachers also assign way more for us to do at home because they think we will split it into two days instead of one,” said junior Suzanne Klopp. “In reality, most people end up cramming everything the night before.”
Multiple students favor the block schedule because of the flexibility and extended time it offers upon deciding when to complete homework. It takes off the pressure of finishing all assignments in one night and relieves stress from students’ priorities.
However, several teachers, including Spanish teacher Mr. Kurt Paprocki ‘00, prefer meeting with students everyday for class.
“As a Spanish teacher, my preference is to meet with my students daily for more repetition and exposure to the language,” said Mr. Paprocki. “But because of our block schedule, I want to provide this repetition and exposure during our off days. Learning another language can’t be an every-other-day experience.” Paprocki does not assign more homework, but he assigns a comfortable amount so students are refreshed with the material learned in class every other day, and so we progress in the language.
“I think it is the block schedule that makes it seem like there’s a lot more homework this year,” said junior Henry Jochaniewicz. “With Lion Days, though, there really is more homework to do because all the homework from Red Days has to be done in a single night rather than two.”
“I don’t believe that there is really an increase in homework this year, but I do believe that Lion days make it feel like there is,” said senior Joe Bollard in agreement with Jochaniewicz. “Thursday nights feel busier because you only have one night to do homework for Red days, and while you can do homework the night it was assigned to try and keep a schedule, it is sometimes just not feasible.”
Many students would like to return to last year’s block schedule—three Navy days a week and two Red days or vice versa—instead of the Lion schedule, which has an equal number of  Navy and Red days per week. Having to do homework from hour and twenty-five minute classes, sometimes for eight classes on Thursday nights, can be stressful and time consuming for students, affecting their feeling towards Lion days.
Another factor to take into consideration is the extracurricular activities that the majority of students at Viator are involved in.
“Activities, other commitments, and any other event will take away from time to do homework, and this can make it feel like there is more homework, especially when you don’t have the extra day built in to help budget time,”said Bollard.
Believe it or not, even teachers understand the amount that is on students’ plates.
“What holds me back is that I know the students at our school have a lot on their plate—demanding classes, co-curricular activities, family responsibilities, personal ‘me’ time, work, etc,” said Paprocki. “My expectations aren’t that my students need to spend several hours per day on classwork in my Spanish classes. But my expectations are that they spend some time each day being exposed to the language.”
During busy times, it is important for students to stay organized and be responsible for their tasks.
“I’ve had to manage my time a lot better to finish my work and keep track of everything else,” said Jochaniewicz. “I started making a planner and using a calendar just so I can keep track of and finish all of it, something which I didn’t need to do as a freshman nor a sophomore.”
“I’m not concerned that I’m giving too much homework in my classes, but it’s important for students to be able to manage their time,” said Paprocki. “A lot of my students finish classwork for my classes the day they’re assigned, and some wait until the morning it’s due. I think it’s important for our students to develop time-management skills as they continue into college. Our students will experience a similar academic schedule in college.”
”The longer block period allows time for students to begin assignments on most days,” said Theology teacher Mrs. Rosanne Coury. “Comparing homework loads pre-pandemic, in the early-pandemic era, and now are not quite apples-to-apples comparisons.”
Both students and teachers agree that it is a smart idea to become organized now and prioritize your responsibilities because it will aid you today and in the future.