Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Time as a Resource: The School Schedule

It's the time of year when I begin to get calls from principals interested in revising their school's schedules. Lots of things drive interest in a new schedule---declining enrollment or resources, curricular changes, organizational shifts and school improvement plans. Regardless of the motivation it is critical to remember that time is a resource, albeit a finite one, and time can be used in ways that either inhibit or promote your school's instructional program.

Principals are always looking for ideal schedule. Hundreds, indeed thousands, of good schedules exist, but there is no single perfect schedule. Each schedule reflects the uniqueness of a school community, the philosophy of its teachers and administration and the priorities of its community.

So where do you begin? You start by clarifying your school's values and priorities. Virtually anything can be scheduled, but everything cannot be built into the same schedule. It's about choices. That's where priorities are so important. Take time to work with teachers and other stakeholders to clearly identify what you want to achieve with your schedule. Most importantly value collaboration. Participation in planning a schedule builds support and serves as a form of professional development. While planning make sure you have a balanced review of the options. Investigate all options and have a thorough discussion of advantages and disadvantages.

But no factor is more important than the vision that teachers and administrators hold for your school. Without a vision, and without clearly identified priorities, the schedule is nothing but a tool for organizing students and teachers. With a clear vision you can create a schedule that positively impacts students and their learning.

Here are four basic principles about scheduling.

  • Schedules reflect a school's values and priorities.
  • Most effective schedules are anchored in a shared vision.
  • A quality schedule emerges when teachers and administrators work together in its design.
  • With clear goals the schedule becomes a powerful tool to positively affect teaching and learning.

I'd enjoy hearing from you about your school's schedule and how you use it to improve the educational experience of your students.

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