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Restructuring Specials Schedules

Increasing frequency of art and music to support students


Knowing the stress and anxiety students were under in the pandemic, Cedar Rapids Community School District opted to prioritize “specials” classes.

"The art teacher said, 'I can really get deeper in the projects,’ and the music teacher, ‘I can get through these four pieces of music.’ I remember the kids' names. I'm not dealing with seven hundred of them.' It’s one of those things that has been a positive unintended consequence, just like the block scheduling thing, changing the schedule of school allowed for different kinds of ways to think about it." - John Rice, Executive Director, Teaching and Learning at Cedar Rapids Community School District


As part of their approach to supporting students’ wellbeing in the pandemic, the district chose to explore creative options to make school work best for their students. Given the personal relevancy and creativity of “specials” classes such as art and music, the district decided to increase students’ time in specials classes. They restructured the schedule, increasing the frequency of specials classes from weekly to daily, continuing the specials for six-week periods. While focused on prioritizing support for students, the change worked well for the special teachers as well, as they were able to engage more deeply with students on longer-term projects.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.