Dear BT Families,
Brownell Talbot as a school and a community is such a special place. Beyond the friendships that form and sustain between students, parents, faculty, and staff; beyond the many accolades our students earn in and out of the classroom; beyond the inspiring ideas brought forth and then put into action by our teachers; BT is special because we are rich in 154 years of excellence and tradition.
We have a responsibility to uphold these traditions while also thinking innovatively about BT's future. Our designation as an independent school provides us the freedom to delve into areas where we are good, in order to address needs, adapt, and become great as we pursue another 154 years of preparing students for college and life.
As BT nears the completion of the current five-year strategic plan, and we begin thinking about the next five years, I'd like to update you on our objective of being known as a leader in preschool through grade 12 education in Omaha. The objective in our strategic plan states:
Brownell Talbot will build upon effective teaching and learning through innovative, interdisciplinary, and differentiated pedagogical methods that integrate technology and promote excellence in academics, athletics/activities, and the arts.
A key strategy under this objective required our team to think creatively and comprehensively about schedule, time, and calendar to promote the most balanced teaching and learning experience possible.
How We Are Addressing This Strategy
Starting with the 2018-2019 school year, Brownell Talbot will adopt a rotating schedule with classes meeting four out of every six days. A rotating schedule allows every teacher equal access to each student's best learning times. For example, a student may have math first period on day one of the schedule. On day two, math could be period 2, and so on.
Steps Taken to Create the New Schedule
At the State of the School meeting in November, I shared with you that BT had partnered with Challenge Success, an organization that focuses on how schools can achieve student balance while maintaining high standards of academic excellence. Our Challenge Success team, which includes faculty, students, a trustee, and parents, challenged the BT faculty to critically review our practices and develop an actionable plan for improving BT's schedule, time, and calendar. After six months of analysis, research, and feedback, we have established a mission-centered plan that we are excited to introduce to the BT community.
Rotating Schedule benefits
- Prevents students who participate in activities/athletics repeatedly miss time from the same course/subject.
- Capitalizes on students' best learning times.
- Provides more balance to student workload at home.
- Puts focus on deepening student knowledge, reflection, and goal setting.
- Provides more time for individual support and feedback.
- Allows teachers to use a greater variety of teaching methods and assessments.
Flex Time at the End of the Day
- Provides time for academic support from faculty and peer tutors.
- Allows for more collaboration between students.
- Gives time for grade-level team building.
- Allows for internships/outside experiences during the school day.
- Permits for some extracurricular activity built into the school day.
- Allows House and advisory to meet multiple times a week, giving more frequency to student connections and academic monitoring and support.
With our strategic plan and these benefits in mind, I’m excited to move this plan forward and begin to work with families to ensure a more flexible school day that maintains the high expectations and outcomes associated with Brownell Talbot.
In the coming weeks, we will provide additional information such as sample schedules and answers to frequently asked questions. We will also offer opportunities to have questions about the new schedule answered through the following events:
- On Friday, March 2 current grade 5-11 students will learn about the new schedule.
- On Friday, March 16 we will hold a Facebook Live event with our Challenge Success team.
- We will hold a State of the Schools spring meeting, at a date to be determined, to share more details and answer questions.
In the meantime, Mr. Smith, Mr. Harrell, and I are available should you wish to talk!
Kristi N. Gibbs, Ed.D.
Head of School