Teachers and students discuss effectiveness of conflict calendars


Andrea Schlitt

conflict calendar
A conflict calendar rests on the wall of B212. Although students are encouraged to utilize the calendar, it is often overlooked. Photo by Andrea Schlitt.

On a Tuesday afternoon, students rush out of room B212, passing a laminated calendar that hangs next to an array of posters with French phrases. At the top, the words “conflict calendar” are printed in bright bold purple letters. Although complaints of stress and work loads are commonly heard amongst students, only two test dates are written.

Last year, teachers were given conflict calendars in an effort to help manage student stress and better plan curriculum. As the year has gone by, the variation in how the conflict calendars are used is more obvious, best seen through differences in how teachers make use of the calendars and how much students participate.

Conflicting opinions

English teacher Jessica Kaufman finds conflict calendars beneficial, and believes that students are more likely to use them if teachers are willing to let it influence their planning. It also helps her communicate with other departments effectively.

“It’s a great way for me to see what [students] are doing in other classes,” Kaufman said. “Just looking at the amount of writing on it tells me a great deal.”

Kaufman keeps separate calendars for her sophomores and seniors. This helps her to see the different workloads and help organize her schedule. Photo by Andrea Schlitt.

However, students in some classes where teachers may not emphasize the use of a conflict calendar as much don’t receive the benefits. Freshman Shirley Qi believes that teachers who teach freshmen aren’t influenced by the calendar as much.

“I don’t think teachers think [freshmen] have a lot going on,” Qi said. “Even when we post stuff on it, [teachers] put the test on the same day.”

Although she thinks teachers should be more understanding and pay more attention to the calendars, she also believes that the responsibility of reducing stress lies somewhat on the students themselves to manage their time and balance school and extracurricular activities.

For French teacher Melanie Lhomme, it can be challenging to take into account everyone’s test dates in a class with sophomores, juniors and seniors. However, she compensates for that by making Thursday an ideal test date, because of the lack of tests in other subjects. She has also always been using some form of a conflict calendar in her classroom before they were implemented school-wide.

“I think there’s a lot of measures we should be taking [to alleviate stress],” Lhomme said, “but you have to take it one step at a time, and I think [a conflict calendar] is a good step to take.”

Managing stress

As a new teacher this year, math teacher Michael Lordan immediately noticed the high levels of stress at MVHS. He thinks the stress is particularly prominent compared to other high schools, and is open to new ways to combat that stress. He understands students’ heavy workloads, and tries to help by taking into account students’ schedules through the conflict calendar.

“Ideally, students would start studying for tests way in advance, but I realize that often isn’t the case,” Lordan said. “If a lot of tests coincide on the same day, it can be hard for students to cope with.”

In addition to implementing conflict calendars, MVHS has conducted surveys for a second tutorial and later school start times, all in an effort to reduce student stress. Although these goals are still being worked towards, Kaufman believes that the community needs to focus on all aspects of stress. When teachers are stressed, that transfers to the students, and the pressure students put on themselves causes more anxiety. She emphasizes that students need to manage their expectations because expecting perfection leads to more stress when perfection can’t be achieved.

“School is a learning process, and part of learning is not being perfect and falling flat on your face.” Kaufman said. “We’re all afraid of making a mistake that it becomes a really stressful environment.”