Good Stewards of Time

By Andy Shaw, Dean of Curriculum and Innovation

“We are good stewards of time,” was one of Father Malcolm Manson’s most oft-used sentences in those early days of The Bay School. Our founding head of school used this sentence to mean that we are intentional about how we use time – the most valuable currency in schools, and arguably, in this fast-paced age in which we live. While we don’t use Father Malcolm’s wording as publicly as we used to, the principle of being good stewards of time continues to sit at the core of our philosophies about education.

To Father Malcolm, and to those of us at school, being good stewards of time is partly about showing respect for students and families by being intentional and restrained in how we ask students to use their time outside of school. It’s the reason we have a homework policy our teachers abide by, one which calls for quality over quantity in homework and for meaningful tasks rather than busywork, and which specifies what amount of time is appropriate for an assignment at a given grade level. This policy allows us to assign valuable application and skill practice work at home, while also making sure our students have time for socializing, dinner with family, and exploration of their own hobbies and passions. This notion of respect through stewardship of time also drives our commitment to the flex/free block — all students have a period in the schedule where they can do homework and relax — as well as the scheduling of our exceptional College Counseling and Test Prep courses for juniors, which occur during the school day, rather than before school, after school, or on weekends.  We believe that life for adolescents does not, and should not revolve completely around school; we have built our school to live up to that belief.

Regardless of what is written on a website or a viewbook, one can see what a school really values by looking at the way the institution allocates minutes. This is stewardship of time, writ large. Bay’s dedication of time to Morning Meeting and Tutorial, for example, speaks volumes about our commitment to strong community and individualized work between students and teachers, respectively. Our long-block classes and four-classes-per-term configuration demonstrate our certainty that students learn well when they can focus on fewer subjects, encountering topics in engaging, hands-on ways. And our allocation of a full week every year to Intersession provides evidence of our school’s belief that intensive, immersion-based learning, be it through exploration in the field or through pouring oneself into a project for days at a time in the lab, is a powerful way to learn and grow. Our values are written in our calendar and our schedule.

As readers may know, the staffulty at Bay is in the process of reworking our school’s schedule. While this process has not concluded and while implementation would still be years away, excitement among staffulty is high because the designs we are now refining are, to quote the students, “so Bay.”  We’re staying true to our principles and to the values that make this school special, and aligning our days, minutes, and hours in new ways to be better stewards of time, to continue putting our students and our values at the forefront of everything we do.