Timing is Everything

New student-centred timetable
When Shawnigan students and staff begin the new school year this September, their days will look entirely different than they have in years past thanks to a revolutionary new timetable and weekly schedule.

“There is a saying that if you want to see the values of a school, look at its timetable,” shares Wendy Milne, Assistant Head – Academics. In looking through that lens, one can easily see that Shawnigan values our students – and their health, well-being, and success – above all else.

The road to our new timetable and schedule began in September 2018, when a Timetable Committee comprised of a diverse team of teachers, House Directors, coaches and instructors was first formed. Two years of hard work, research, professional development, and thorough consultation with students has led us to this place: the new timetable is ready to be implemented and the enthusiasm of the committee is infectious.

“We could have waited until next year to launch this timetable, especially with all the change that we are already facing this fall, but we decided to be bold and forge ahead as the benefits of change outweigh any apprehension of trying something new,” explains Mrs. Milne. “As a school, we stand firmly behind this timetable and all the work that went into it.”

Our new schedule is decisively student-centred, designed to both challenge and care for the whole student. Each step of the way, decisions were made with their best interests in mind – and the end result has altered nearly every aspect of our day and week.

Some of the key changes to the school day include switching to an eight block schedule, incorporating classes of varying lengths throughout the day, and introducing a special rotating Friday schedule. The first four days of the week now each begin with two 90-minute blocks, followed by two 60-minute blocks after lunch and then either athletics or 360, our newly rebranded after-school co-curricular time, in the afternoons. Fridays will be unique unto themselves. Two different days (nicknamed “Black” and “Gold”) will alternate week by week, each with four 40-minute blocks in the mornings and Chapel and Advisor meetings directly after lunch.

Emphasis has been put on empowering students to take charge of their own time. As Mrs. Milne explains, “This schedule puts the students in the driver’s seat and makes them more responsible for their learning!” An excellent example of this autonomy can be seen in our new Friday afternoon schedule. Following the success of June’s student-driven inquiry-based Soul Seeking projects, we have set aside a weekly four-hour block of time for students to explore independent passion projects and to take the initiative, with the degree of independence increasing at each grade level.

In line with overwhelming sleep research, our Shawnigan day will now begin at 9:00 a.m., giving students extra sleep in the mornings and staff time to collaborate before classes begin. Evening free time has been shifted from after prep to directly after dinner, and our traditional prep time has been re-imagined. Early evening is now out-of-House time, with students encouraged to do their homework away from their bedrooms, and House duty staff available for tutorials in their classrooms or the library. The day will end with an earlier evening sign in for all grades.

This schedule represents a huge step forward for our School. Our groundbreaking new approach to time reflects Shawnigan’s values and our commitment to the health and wellness of our students and staff. It gives students more sleep, space to breathe, and increased independence, all with a view to better prepare them for their transition to university and life in the outside world. Future-proofing our students is at the heart of our design thinking. Teachers will also benefit from the flexible schedule, varying block lengths, and additional time to collaborate.

Just as students and teachers pivoted seamlessly to SOUL and SOUL Seeking last spring, we are confident that our School community will quickly embrace – and thrive in – our uniquely Shawnigan schedule this fall.

This is truly an historic time to be part of the Shawnigan journey.

Many thanks to our wonderful Timetable Committee, headed by Mr. Tom Lupton and Dr. Ed Taylor, for dedicating themselves these past two years to the creation of our incredibly innovative new timetable designed to move us into the future!
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.