Why Consider FLEX Time in Middle School?
Students entering the new and uncharted territory of Middle School are often faced with challenges daily. Offering students FLEX time at the middle school level provides them with designated tutorials and classes where they are provided with the extra support, intervention, and enrichment they need to be successful during their middle school years and beyond.
FLEX periods give teachers and students extra time together during the school day. Teachers can offer intervention, test retakes, assignment make-up, or enrichment activities each day or week for their students as their needs arise.
What Does FLEX Time Look Like in a Middle School Schedule?
FLEX time in Middle School can look many different ways depending on the needs of the school. One of the most convenient aspects of FLEX time is that it is flexible and can be placed at any point in the schedule that best suits the needs of the students and staff. FLEX time can also be canceled when needed such for a school assembly, testing, or minimum days.
Typically a FLEX period may be scheduled during the middle of the school day and lasts for about 30 minutes or so. This schedule allows the students to have a break in the middle of the day from their core classes and ensures that students are present during FLEX time (by avoiding the late arrival and early dismissal crowds).
Again, when scheduling FLEX time, many factors need to be considered, but the primary purpose of FLEX time is to meet the needs of the students. For some school sites, the beginning of the day may be the best time, and for others, the end of the day may be best.
What Makes Implementing FLEX Time Challenging?
There are a few challenges to consider when first implementing FLEX time at the middle school level.
Initially, implementing FLEX time can be challenging because it may be difficult to find time in the daily schedule for it. Class periods sometimes need to be reduced to find the minutes to implement a FLEX period. For example, taking just 5 minutes from 6 periods a day will allow you to add a 30-minute FLEX period to your daily schedule. Lunches could be reduced, or your school could take advantage of a pre-existing Advisory or Homeroom period.
Once the scheduling issue is solved, teachers and students must learn the new procedures, routines, and responsibilities of FLEX time and learn to use it efficiently. Scheduling issues may initially be a challenge for both teachers and students as they learn the system. Once the routines are in place, and students and staff know how to schedule their FLEX classes, this however ceases to be a problem.
Another challenge when first implementing FLEX periods in middle school, is that students often are not ready to make independent decisions about their academic needs. To combat this, students should be trained on the value and purpose of FLEX time. They may even need teachers or other staff to help them with their selections each week.
It may also make sense to first let teachers choose students for their FLEX periods at the middle school level, then allow students who have not been chosen to fill in their schedules. This gives students some autonomy and choice, but at the same time, guarantees that students who need the most intervention are getting it.
What Will Make for a Successful Flex Time?
Several factors determine whether your FLEX time will be successful in your middle school. Each FLEX session scheduled should be intentional. Teachers should have specific objectives in place for each session. Students need to know how to check their FLEX schedules and select their FLEX sessions when appropriate.
Scheduling a variety of activity types weekly is also imperative if you want your FLEX time to be successful. Teachers may want to schedule different categories of FLEX time each day. For instance, this could look like Test Retake Day on Monday, Tuesday; Intervention Day Tuesday, Assignment Make-up Day on Thursday and Enrichment Day Friday.
A key benefit of FLEX time is that it gives teachers choices about what they want to use the time for, and gives their students the option to choose what FLEX session they’d like to attend. To be successful students must understand they have a responsibility to use their FLEX time wisely, and in a way that best supports their learning.
Additionally, taking attendance is crucial to make sure that FLEX time is effective and efficient. Students should understand that their FLEX time is valuable, and should be held accountable for their attendance and participation. Therefore, taking daily attendance during FLEX periods is a must if you want it to be successful.
Why FLEX Time Matters
FLEX time in middle school is beneficial for many reasons. It gives teachers more time to support students who need additional help by allowing them to spend more time together. Additionally, this extra time together helps to build student-teacher relationships.
Students can also use FLEX time to work on projects or get help with homework outside of the regular class. It also gives students the choice of enrichment activities offered by various teachers on various subjects. It gives students a choice, and when students have choices in their educational environment, they tend to perform better in their academics.
Teachers can group students based on learning needs and offer them extra help. This allows teachers to help students struggling with the same topics, outside of the regularly scheduled class period. This focused instructional time not only benefits students academically but helps them to see that there are other students struggling with the same concepts.
Scheduling FLEX periods in middle school gives students time during the school day to participate in extension activities that may be unavailable to them if they were held after school. Teachers can use this time to allow students to work on special projects, or teach social-emotional lessons.
The benefits of FLEX time in middle school are endless and the best part about FLEX time is that students enjoy and look forward to it each day. Giving students more time to work with each other and their teachers is a mutually beneficial situation for all those involved. FLEX is a structured and flexible way to implement this valuable time in the middle school’s daily schedule.