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One of our previous posts looked at 5 ways adding a flexible block to your school schedule can benefit students. But there are so many reasons; we couldn’t just stop there! Here are 5 more reasons, mostly focused on how a flex block can add to the social/emotional health of your school.
1. Improve school culture.
What is a strong school culture? When students and staff members are connected, communicate well – really, when a school seems more like a close-knit family than a school. Most schools would like to achieve this, but how? A flex block creates so many opportunities that ultimately will lead to a stronger school culture. Students in the same flex block can get to know each other, and different teachers better as they work together in smaller groups. Staff members can create opportunities to build peer support and respect, and showcase students' creativity. Some schools have created TED-style talks during their flex blocks for students to talk to their peers (who can choose to sign up) about a something that's important to them. Or they've used this time period for students to share things that they've created, maybe projets they've worked hard on. When students learn to respect, support, and appreciate each other, the whole culture of the school will be impacted in a big way.
2. Make time for enriching discussions.
In a classroom setting, sometimes kids don’t feel comfortable, or don’t have the chance to really open up and express themselves about a subject. Some teachers use the flex time period to engage students in enriching discussions about a certain topic; it could be an extension of class time, or perhaps it's a current event, something on students' minds. Or, sometimes it's just a time to talk about who they are, and what’s going on in their life. In smaller groups, students may feel more comfortable to talk about their passions and concerns, and openly share their opinions.
3. Revolutionize guidance.
One guidance counselor in a school we worked with said that their school’s daily flex block “revolutionized” what their department was able to do. They were able to meet with groups of students, every day. Essentially, this gave them a class time they never would have had before. And what did that allow them to do? They could meet with each and every student in the school several times a year, and as needed, something they never could have done before. Imagine the benefit for the students – every student in the school – to sit and talk with a small group of other students, and an adult that really cared about your goals and feelings! In addition, the flex block is there, every day -- so students who may need to meet with a guidance counselor could do so any day, knowing that they have this resource available.
4. Foster creativity.
A flex block opens up enrichment opportunities that can challenge students to use their creativity, and explore their passions. Maybe it’s a writing prompt, or project that they want to create video content for, or a song they want to write and record. A flex block can give students time they normally wouldn’t have to enrich their school experience, and feed or even learn how to use their creative abilities. Which leads us to the next reason…
5. Show students the ‘big picture.’
School – especially middle and high school – is often filled with drama. For many students, it can be a real challenge socially. It may seem like this is it -- this is your life, every day. On top of that, some students may find it hard to decide what they really want to do when they get out school, or at least, to have a direction. It can be hard to see past the now. That's where the flex block comes in. Whether it’s time spent discussing their future, their big ideas, or using the flex block to host ‘career speakers,’ to talk about how they make a living, students will be able to see that there is something beyond; they have value as independent individuals, and can successfully pursue something they love.