Mixed feelings

Students and teachers discuss AcLab changes

The average AcLab is busy and productive, with students chatting with their friends and doing homework, and teachers taking the opportunity to provide extra instruction. Recently, however, the independent period has been cut short.

Since the beginning of the school year, Jones has been experimenting with an early release time on certain B day Wednesdays to allow for teachers to have anti-racism training, and has replaced the latter half of AcLab with Eagle Lab on some Thursdays with the goal of improving students’ mental health.

However, students and teachers alike are feeling the negative impacts of lost independent study time on learning.

“Surprisingly, I haven’t had more of my students come in during my morning office hours since AcLab time was shortened,” said math teacher Kimberly Bowman. “They aren’t in my room with questions when I’m available.”

Abby Basler ‘22 has seen the new AcLab schedule upset her study habits.

“I usually like to take a break after classes to refocus my mind before I start doing my homework and visiting teachers during AcLab, but with the new changes I have to go straight into work mode,” Basler said. “I’m definitely less productive now.”

Science teacher Garrett Smith is also feeling pressed for time.

“For teachers, the first AcLab of the week is usually taken up by department or team meetings, and now even the time we have is shorter,” said Smith. “It’s hard for me to instruct and hard for my students to get help and learn.”

Especially for underclassmen that are new to in-person AcLab, the changes have made adjusting to a regular school year difficult.

“Transferring from virtual learning has been a challenge for students still figuring out what the purpose of AcLab is and its value,” Bowman said. “The younger grades are being hit the hardest by lost AcLab time.”

Even with the loss of time, Bowman does believe that Wednesday anti-racism training sessions in lieu of AcLab have pushed Jones further towards its goal of becoming an anti-racist community.

“This year Jones has been looking at white supremacy culture and its presence at the school,” Bowman said. “I think we’re finally reaching a point where teachers are being given implementable anti-racist practices to use in the classroom, so I’m excited about that.”

Even with the benefits to school culture that are predicted to emerge from AcLab changes, students have not seen their mental health improve in the short term.

“I understand that the intention of Thursday Eagle Lab is to educate students on their identities and mental health, and I think that anti-racism training is important work for the school, but my mental health has gone downhill since the Ac Lab changes started,” said Basler. “Personally, I’m not learning new strategies for coping with stress, and losing my work time is just stressing me out more.”

Teachers echo this sentiment.

“From anecdotal data, I feel that Thursday Eagle Labs are increasing stress in students and teachers rather than alleviating it,” Bowman said.

Beginning an in-person school year once more has simply been hard on the entire Jones community, and everyone, from the administration to students, has recognized that.

“There’s a lot of intensity right now,” said Bowman. “I just want to thank everyone for being so flexible, and I’m looking forward to all of us getting adjusted soon.”