At a special meeting of the Rancho Santa Fe School District board on Aug. 17, it was announced the 2017-2018 tutorial period will carry on for middle school students in the new school year.
R. Roger Rowe Principal Garrett Corduan shared student survey results highlighting how 96 percent of students agreed the tutorial period helped with their homework while 77 percent of students in seventh and eighth grade thought the period helped them be more successful in school.
Corduan provided a little history on the middle school bell schedule topic explaining how the decision to change it for the 2017-2018 was to improve the student experience. When Corduan became the middle school principal in 2013, he noticed some consistent themes that came up in his first few years.
“Students had too much homework, there was a limited amount of time to connect with teachers outside of the classroom, and students had a high use of tutors outside of the school,” he said.
Corduan wanted to figure out a way to solve those issues.
“For me, it was changing the bell schedule,” he said.
Corduan went on to say he first introduced the idea to the teachers and they were receptive. He then met with parents to discuss the potential change from a six-period schedule to an eight-period schedule and underscored the benefits of a tutorial period to parents.
“It was the idea of creating a time during the day where we had the ability to work on school work but did not want it to be a study hall. I wanted students to have access to their teachers,” he said. “That was my big push and my big change — we wanted students to have access to teachers during the school day.”
The school board approved the bell schedule change of the tutorial period, which occurs every other day and lasts an hour and 15 minutes where students are assigned a teacher.
Corduan noted that the tutorial period was not an academic role for the teacher. Instead, it a time for students to meet their mentors. He went on to say that students had the option to either work on the homework from class, approach a teacher if they needed help, or even collaborate with other students on a group project.
Another goal was reducing the need for tutors.
“A lot of our students extended their day and would visit a tutor after school when our experts are here on campus and are the actual teachers that taught them a lesson that day. So, we wanted to lessen the load,” he said.
Through Corduan’s tutorial period observations, he shared the critical piece for him was student accountability during those times.
“That accountability piece was tough to let go of and give students that freedom,” he said. “I got a report that there were zero issues during the tutorial time,” he said.
Corduan told the school board that the tutorial period was life-changing for both the students and teachers.
“Teachers were reaching out to connect,” Corduan said. “That connection piece was really nice.”