The Joplin School District kicks off the new school year with a change.
Last year students went to new buildings after the tornado. This year there should be more stability but one school is making a big change in the way it operates.
East Middle School is switching to a flexible schedule approach. They're throwing out specific class lengths and bells. Teachers check halls then tell students it's time to move classrooms.
Eighth grade students were a little congested this first time switching rooms but even they say halls are less noisy and less crowded than when the entire school's sixth, seventh and eighth grades all changed class at the same time.
The flexible schedule will allow teachers to extend a class period for projects or more intensive instruction. They can collaborate more and most importantly teachers have to work as teams.
"They can talk with each other and say 'hey, I need extra time now' and the other teachers will compromise a little bit what they're doing," says East Middle School Principal Bud Sexson. "It's a give and take on that instructional team. To me that's the way it should be. We shouldn't let bell schedules tell us how long kids need to learn."
Principal Sexson says he applied the flexible schedule at a school in Oklahoma and found that it creates a calm learning environment and helps improve students test scores.
Sexson admits for some teachers it will take some getting used to doing and he plans to have a meeting in October to see how the new flexible schedule is working and where they can make fixes.