The master school schedule shapes how learning takes place and brings a school leader’s priorities to life. This checklist is a resource for school leaders and their teams to use when planning, creating, and vetting their master school schedules. It is framed by the principles of strategic school design.
When redesigning the master school schedule, leaders can make more deliberate choices about which teachers meet with which students, for how long, and about what topics. They can also ensure that teachers have time for meaningful collaborative planning and time to observe their peers. At the end of the school year, teams should reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what could be even better in the coming year. In Three Steps to a Strategic School Schedule, ERS manager Rob Daigneau describes the process that our partner schools go through to set priorities, explore options, and design their strategic school schedule.
We recommend these tools and papers as a next step in the process to design an effective school schedule:
Designing Schools that Work
Strategic designs don’t happen by accident. They happen because school leaders and their teams develop a deliberate strategy for organizing resources.
Through years of research and practice around school resource use, we have found that high-performing, high-growth schools are responding to the changing context in education by using people, time, technology, and money in ways that look significantly different than the status quo. This paper contains detailed stories of districts putting the strategies into action, to inspire and guide action.
Three Steps to a Strategic School Schedule
This blog provides details on the three steps of the school scheduling process (listed above), and includes an example of how all the pieces can be put together to build more collaborative planning time into the school schedule for a fictional high school in a large, urban district.
Drawing from years of experience working closely with school leaders, we offer six strategies to redesign your school schedule to find more time for collaborative planning – even as much as 90 minutes per week.
Arlington Woods Middle School in Indianapolis faced many of the same challenges as schools around the country – students exhibited serious behavior problems brought on by trauma, they were not meeting academic standards, and teachers felt unsupported. Principal Tihesha Guthrie engaged in a strategic school design process to identify her school’s most pressing needs, and then made strategic changes to her school schedule to address those root causes.
School Scheduling Tools
This set of tools is the most downloaded content on our website. They walk leaders through each step of the school scheduling process:
School Designer Tool
School Designer is our free online tool that serves as a one-stop shop for strategic school design. This tool integrates districts’ planning and budgeting processes so that key resource decisions, including those related to the school schedule, staffing plan, and budget, are tightly aligned with its needs and improvement strategy.
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