Over the past six months, I've been neck deep in drafting my second book on professional learning communities. Tentatively titled Progress-Driven Leadership, it is designed to introduce readers to tangible strategies for tackling the five most common frustrations faced by schools working to move towards a more collaborative, responsive future.
One of the challenges that we address in the text — crafting a master schedule that creates time for collaboration AND student intervention — has handcuffed more than a few PLC principals.
The fact of the matter is that creating a master schedule CAN be a complete nightmare — but if a school's scheduling team is focused on a small handful of key priorities, it IS possible to design a schedule that successfully advances a building's mission, vision, values and goals.
Rick and Becky DuFour and their coauthors Gayle Karhanek and Bob Eaker explain it like this in Whatever it Takes:
"Often in our workshops, participants will bemoan the fact that the schedule in their school will not allow them to provide students with additional support. We find that response puzzling.
There are many things that educators are unable to change in their schools, but the schedule is not one of them. God did not create our schedules; we did!
A school that contends it simply cannot find the time to help all students learn because of its restrictive schedule must ask, “What is the priority reflected in our current schedule? Is that priority truly more important than ensuring that students have time for extra support when they struggle?”
These handouts may help you to keep your scheduling team focused on the priorities that will truly advance the work of your learning community:
Structuring Successful Scheduling Teams
As counterintuitive as it may seem, highly effective principals often turn the responsibility for creating a school’s master schedule over to cross-departmental teams of teacher leaders.
To ensure that your scheduling team is successful, however, composition matters. Consider using this handout to think through who you’d like to see working on your school’s master scheduling team.
What ARE Our Scheduling Priorities
As you start to craft your master schedule, it’s important that you reflect carefully on the projects and programs that you want to carve out time for. The simple truth, however, is that there just isn’t enough time to successfully maintain multiple priorities.
Ask the members of your school scheduling team to use this handout to think through their positions on the priorities that SHOULD be reflected in your new schedule.
Scheduling Priority Rubric
After your scheduling team has developed several sample schedules that are worth considering, members can use this rubric to rate each potential schedule. Final scores can then be used to rank order each schedule before you decide on a few that are worth presenting to your entire faculty.
Hope these handouts help as you work to polish the master schedule in your building — and hope you'll give me a bit of feedback if you decide to use them! I'd love to know what you like — and what you would change — about 'em.
Thanks in advance,
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