Staff Editorial: What we’d like to see on asynchronous Fridays

Editorial Board

As Term 2 approaches, a few schedule changes worth noting will be taking place, one of which is making Fridays asynchronous.

Contrary to what many students may hope, an asynchronous day is not synonymous with a day off, but means that teachers do not host mandatory Zoom meetings. Instead, teachers may post assignments to Canvas, meet with students in small groups, and participate in professional growth opportunities. Students choose where and when to do their class work within the turn-in window provided by their teacher. This work is then marked as attendance for that day.

The details of asynchronous Fridays are still being fine-tuned. Administrators are meeting tomorrow to discuss them.

As asynchronous Fridays have not yet been implemented, The Nexus decided that we would offer teachers some suggestions for what to do and what to avoid in planning these days. 

1. No mandatory Zoom meetings—including tests 

As stated on the Principal’s announcements tab on Westview’s website, teachers will still be able to administer tests on Fridays, as it is often used as an assessment day. Even with Fridays being asynchronous, teachers have the option to hold tests over Zoom. It is understandable that this is an attractive option for teachers, but on a day set aside to ease Zoom fatigue and give students a break from their screens, it would be disappointing if students still had to log on to Zoom, even for independent work or assessments. Having to attend Zoom tests defeats the purpose of an asynchronous day. If teachers are concerned about cheating, which is a reasonable concern if students were to be taking tests without any supervision, they may want to consider scheduling tests for Mondays-Thursdays instead. 

2. Modify workload to fit the minimum-day format of Term 1

Another change starting in Term 2 is that the late-start day, which, in the past, has taken place on Wednesdays, will be absorbed into Friday’s asynchronous day. With that, we hope that teachers will adjust the workload to fit the 60-minute late-start period schedule that has been used thus far this year. Something worth noting is that the schedule for Friday’s late start maintains the non-late start 80-minute period schedule, but shaves down lunch to 30 minutes. Late start days give students extra time to catch up on work or relax, and that should be honored with this new schedule. Although the free flowing format of asynchronous Fridays allows teachers to conceivably assign as much work as they would like, we hope they won’t overestimate the amount of work students can finish during a class period and end up giving out excessive amounts of work that will turn into extra weekend homework. 

3. Instructional videos

In order to incorporate instruction into the flexible, asynchronous format, teacher-made instructional videos may be assets to student learning. These videos could be watched at a convenient pace for students, while making it so that they don’t miss a full day of instruction each week. This would take effort from teachers, but in the end would benefit students academically and ensure that teachers could still give all of their planned lectures.

4. Extended office hours

In our current virtual learning environment, one-on-one time between students and teachers is crucial, and an asynchronous work day is the perfect time to expand office hours. Although office hours will still be hosted three times a week, more students would be able to have individual conversations with teachers if they kept their office hours open during the allotted period time on Fridays. Perhaps teachers could offer office hours by appointment on Fridays. 

5. Flexible turn-in window

One of the perks of an asynchronous day is flexibility for students to do their school work when and where they would like. Assigning Friday’s asynchronous work earlier in the week and taking attendance as late as possible on Fridays would allow students to manage their time however they choose, as opposed to having to turn in work by the end of a class period or even the end of the school day.

Asynchronous Fridays have the potential to be a great tool for students and teachers alike, but we all must remember that this late-start asynchronous day is important to battle Zoom fatigue and allow students to relax. With this opportunity to rethink how we approach a traditional school day and take stress off of both students and staff, let’s make the most of it.