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3 Reasons Your School Needs a Flex Period—And How To Implement It Successfully

Caitlin Kindred

August 29, 2023
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In the quest to create dynamic and individualized learning environments, schools are increasingly turning to student flex periods. This innovative approach not only fosters student buy-in and accountability but also empowers educators to offer needed academic support and diverse activities that enrich students' education. 

But, the logistics of flex time implementation often prove… challenging

Signing students up for classes (or having them do it) is a headache. And with flexible schedules that can change daily and students heading every which way on campus, taking attendance and keeping kids accountable for their time is a logistical nightmare.

Banish the headaches and bad dreams. Enter SmartPass Flex, a revolutionary solution that simplifies the flex-time process and enhances the benefits of student flex periods. Let’s delve into the advantages of flex time, the obstacles faced by school leaders, and how SmartPass Flex provides a seamless and effective way to make student-centered scheduling a reality.

The Student Flex Time Advantage: A Personalized Approach

Student flex periods have garnered attention for their potential to revolutionize the traditional school schedule. By allowing students to choose from a variety of activities during designated flex periods, schools can achieve the following benefits:

» Additional Academic Support: 

Simply put, many teachers don’t have time to work with students in a small group or one-to-one setting, even when they know it’s needed. Building this time into the school day creates structured time for students to get extra help. In fact, in 2021, Michael Ongie and his team of researchers discovered that schools see a decrease in failure rates after implementing a flex period. He “emphasized that the student failure rate would decrease when students have access to educational support outside of the dedicated classroom time.”

Guidance counselors, learning specialists, and other advisors also benefit from flex time. They can schedule appointments or set open-door office hours without interrupting instructional time.

» Customized Learning: 

Struggling students are not the only ones who gain from flexible scheduling. Students finding academic success and/or those identified as Gifted/Talented can stretch their learning in new and exciting ways. 

Flex periods allow students to select activities that align with their interests, learning styles, and academic goals. They provide the space and time for teachers to expose their students to critical thinking skills. Educators can focus on research and other 21st-century skills, use project-based learning or flipped models, and other student-driven learning activities that ignite their intrinsic curiosity. 

» Enrichment Opportunities: 

Flex time offers a platform for clubs, office hours, workshops, and special events that enhance the educational experience. Making these activities available within the school’s bell schedule opens up opportunities for students with less flexibility outside of the school day.

» Time Management: 

Students learn valuable time management skills by planning their week and selecting activities that suit their schedule. Additionally, students learn to focus on their needs and wants when it comes to their education. 

All of these benefits lead to greater student satisfaction and better student outcomes.

The Challenge: Implementing Flex Time Successfully

While the benefits of student flex periods are evident, the logistics of their implementation can present significant hurdles for school leaders:

  • Accountability: How can schools ensure that students attend the activities they sign up for during flex time?
  • Logistics: Setting up an efficient and accurate system for managing flex time activities, attendance, and scheduling can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Confusion: Inadequate tools may lead to confusion among staff and students, affecting and even limiting the success of the program.

Enriching Schools with SmartPass Flex: A Seamless Solution

SmartPass Flex emerges as a game-changing solution that addresses the challenges of student flex time implementation while enhancing its benefits. Here's how SmartPass Flex works to streamline the process and ensure its success:

Create a new flex period with SmartPass Flex.
Easily create a new flex time offering, and then sync it with your SIS.

1. Setting Up and Signing Up For Flex Periods: A User-Friendly Approach

Administrators can effortlessly set up flex periods through the SmartPass admin view. Personalize the name of your flex period with a custom name, like "Hawk Hour." The system integrates with your Student Information System (SIS) to accurately represent these periods. What’s more, the flex period offerings are searchable by both teacher name and activity.

SmartPass Flex is versatile. While primarily designed for flex time scheduling, the system easily manages other aspects of school life, from assemblies and lunch sign-ups to college visits and special events.

And, it’s easy to delete an individual activity occurrence. This is particularly helpful when there is a recurring activity that needs to skip a day due to school-wide events, like pep rallies. Or, delete an occurrence when an activity sponsor is out for the day. Sponsors can send students enrolled in that activity a notification of the cancellation, and then direct them to sign up for another option for that time.

Use SmartPass Flex to set up office hours for individualized student support.
Use your flex periods for office hours, clubs or additional enrichment activities.

2. Empowering Teachers: Creating Engaging Flex Activities

Teachers and activity sponsors get to create a range of flex activities such as office hours, club meetings, and workshops. They have the option to make activities public or limit participation to specific students. Offerings can also have maximum capacities to ensure manageable sessions and resource availability.

3. Fostering Student Autonomy & Agency: Planning for Productive Weeks

SmartPass Flex equips students with tools to plan their week effectively. At the start of each week, students receive an email reminding them to sign up for flex activities. They choose activities that interest them, align with their goals, and fit into their schedule. They plan their time. They are in control, creating buy-in and student agency.

Students add flex time offerings to their schedules using SmartPass Flex.
Students can easily add flex-time offerings to their schedules in SmartPass.

Elevating Education with SmartPass Flex

Flex time is a powerful tool for schools striving to provide enriched and personalized learning experiences. However, the challenges of implementation can hinder their success. SmartPass Flex comes to the rescue with an intuitive and user-friendly solution that transforms the way schools approach flex-time scheduling.

Embrace the potential of student flex time with SmartPass Flex. Simplify logistics, enhance accountability, and empower students to take ownership of their learning. By embracing technology, schools can unlock a new era of education that is tailored, engaging, and impactful.

Ready to revolutionize your school's scheduling and empower students with flexible learning opportunities? Don't miss the chance to witness the transformative power of SmartPass Flex. Chat with our expert team to explore how SmartPass Flex can simplify flex time implementation, enhance student engagement, and elevate the educational experience with a student-centered, dynamic learning environment. Reserve your demo now!

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