Daily Viking Time shortens classes for more productive worktime

Sydney Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief

During the summer of 2015, the OPS School Board made the decision to add 20 minutes to all high schools and 25 minutes to all elementary and middle schools for the 2015-2016 school year. This decision came as a surprise to students and staff, resulting in there not being a plan in place ready for the new school year.

With this abrupt decision, administration at each school quickly adjusted their schedules with this extra time and have been working hard to figure out a way to spend this time in a productive and effective way.

It was up to each school to decide how they would divide up the extra time. For the first two years at North High School, time was just added on to each class period. According to Michelle Ricard, Science and Art Curriculum Specialist, this is when conversations started about what else they could do because having class for 100 minutes was just too long for many students.

After two years of the new time schedule, the administration at North finally implemented a different change: Viking Time every day for 40 minutes.

To decide how a daily Viking Time would be put into place, staff at North created a Viking Time Committee. This committee consisted of 11 different staff members, including Ricard, who volunteered to come in during the summer to create a plan for the extra time.

Initially, there was not enough agreement with the teachers to implement a schedule including Viking Time every day. Last school year is when they finally brought this option back to the table. They figured the best way to tell what the students and staff wanted to do would be to send out surveys.

“What we’re trying to do at North is have all major decisions be driven by staff and student input…knowing that, no matter what you do not everyone is going to be happy, even though you’re using data,” Ricard said.

The surveys for the teachers had 4 questions regarding the type of schedule they would want and what they would be doing during that time. Once the Viking Time Committee got the results back from the staff they decided to send surveys out to the students as well; these questions were focused on what they would want to do during Viking Time. However, only 20 percent of the student body responded to these surveys, which doesn’t fully represent the students at North, but since it was the only data that the Viking Time Committee received, that’s what they used to make their decisions.

There have been mixed feelings with the students on whether or not they like having Viking Time every day. For Gabby Push, 11, she likes having Viking Time every day because she takes a class at the zoo in the morning and she uses that time to drive to school. Without Viking Time, she would be missing about 30 minutes of her A3/B4 class every day.

However, for other students, like Lindsey Brickey, 12, they don’t like having Viking Time every day because they don’t do anything despite the schedule that was created for that time.

“I personally would like to actually maybe learn something during Viking Time ’cause we start doing the whole like ACT prep things but we do it for like five minutes and then nobody else really pays attention,” Brickey said.

This doesn’t just affect the students. Even though the majority of the teachers are happy with the switch, there are some that aren’t. One teacher in particular who does not necessarily like the new class time, mainly because it takes away from learning time for his students, is Alan Dappen.

Dappen teaches AP Physics 1 during first semester and AP Physics 2 during second semester. With class time being cut back and his students meeting every day, they have lost almost an hour of class time during the week. He anticipates that this change will result in him having to make cuts on the curriculum he teaches to these classes.

“It’s going to prompt a change in the way I do AP Physics. There’s no way we can get through two years of AP Physics in one year anymore so next year I’m going to have to switch my schedule or I’m going to have to switch what we teach,” Dappen said.

During the course of this school year, more surveys will be sent out to students to get more feedback on what they like and dislike about the daily Viking Time schedule. The staff on the Viking Time Committee spent a lot of their time trying to please the students and teachers by implementing something that the majority wanted. That is why these surveys were so crucial to them.

Push and Brickey both said they would answer questions in upcoming surveys as should all Omaha North students as it is the only way to get honest and useful feedback that can truly help the Viking Time Committee make productive changes.