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Winter 2013

About Time

Time during the day when classrooms are empty. It seemed like an odd request, especially considering the source: students and members of the faculty.

But that's exactly what a bunch of faculty and students asked for — blocks of time each week when no classes were scheduled so that a variety of other things could happen on campus without anyone having to miss out.

Matt Miller, Ed.M.'01, Ed.D.'06, the school's associate dean for academic affairs, knew the logistics wouldn't be easy, especially given that this hadn't been done before at the Ed School. But he also knew it was worth a shot. And he wasn't worried that the unscheduled time would go to waste.

"If we do good stuff," he says, "they will come."

And they have. Since the school's Community Block pilot started last fall, faculty, students, and staff have used the three open times (Monday, 12–2 p.m., Thursdays, 4–5 p.m., and Fridays, 12–1 p.m.) to organize and attend various events and meetings. There's a popular "nexus" series that has allowed all doctoral students time to meet. Once a month, students have hosted HGSE Debates, an off-the-record discussion of timely topics such as the Chicago teachers' strike. During the Thursday block, the Office of Student Affairs has been running a series of diversity dialogues. Faculty members have used the time to meet with cohorts over lunch or bring outside speakers to campus to meet casually with students.

Miller says it was important for the administration to offer these open blocks. "Our community depends on us, as school leadership, to create the conditions to bring people together," he says. "This is our version of trying to think like school principals and teacher-leaders to create a schedule that will give people time to collaborate and work together."