Wow, it worked! — Scheduling

Scheduling!  I’ve been meeting this challenge every September of my career with varying degrees of success.  By success, I mean that the schedule I set actually stays in place for more than 2 weeks because, yes, we all know that one kid signing up for trombone lessons or one parent stating “you can’t take my child out of math” can start a cascade of changes.  To me, that means a workable scheduling system not only works well the first time, but also allows for easier and inevitable modifications.  As indispensable as stickie notes are, I’ve never found them to work well for this purpose.  For one thing, even using the smallest of stickie notes still makes for a rather large array, and I do better when I can view the week at an 8.5″ x 11″ glance.

ScheduleThis year I tried something new.  With my nifty wipe-off pocket and a letter-coding system, I was able to organize and schedule with a minimum of fuss, and was very pleased with the results.  Here’s how I did it:

  1. On my trusty yellow legal pad, I made list (and checked it at least twice!) of all of the students on my caseload, arranged by grade, and noted their need (artic, grammar, etc.) and number of sessions.
  2. Then, on another page, I grouped these kiddos as individuals, pairs, or trios.
  3. Once I double-checked that I had all of the students and their sessions accounted for in my groupings, I labeled the groups “A, B, C….”
  4. With a blank schedule slipped in the wipe-off pocket and the school-wide lunch and specials schedule in hand, I started plugging the groups into the schedule with a wipe-off marker.  As changes needed to be made, it was easy to wipe off and move the group labels around — so much easier than crossing out or erasing names on a paper schedule.  And it was easy to check to make sure that I didn’t miss anyone in the process;  all I had to do was go through the ABC’s!
  5. When the schedule was completed, I notified the teachers of the assigned times for their students, made a few tweaks per their request, and it was done.  I then typed the students into the schedule I use on a daily basis.
  6. I noted the tweaks on the wipe-off schedule and put it aside, along with the grouping page I made in step #2.  When changes come up that require multiple groups to be moved, I can pull these out and work from there.

The photo was taken the first week of school.  Those blanks you see — well, they are all filled in now with new referrals.

What scheduling system works for you??



2 thoughts on “Wow, it worked! — Scheduling

  1. I first visit each teacher tell her who from her class is coming and let her know about how many time slots I will need from her class. i then ask them to give me 1 or 2 or 3 times that i might pull the kids. since the same grade level teachers have similar class schedules that differ slightly from other grade levels it helps to plug kids into spots on the schedule. i only had slight changes to make after the initial schedule was set.


  2. I once scheduled an quick afterschool refreshment time with all the teachers at my school. I had prepared cards with groups with student names color coded to indicate the teacher. I prepared a weekly calendar with blocks of time (8:30, 9:00, etc). I then asked teachers to collaborate with each other about the time block. So “red” teacher had to talk to “purple” teacher about the best time for the students who were grouped together. You are probably thinking “this could be chaos”. It actually worked much more efficiently than when I go to each teacher individually! One set of teachers did have to negotiate with another set of teachers for a time block they had already filled. Although one or two teachers did not attend, they were not opposed to the schedule set by their colleagues. If there were issues later, I directed them to their colleagues and they collaborated for different time based on availability. I am not exactly sure why this worked better, but I think teachers felt more empowered. Perhaps they also feel that other teachers understand the needs of their classroom better. The addition of the afternoon refreshments made everyone feel appreciated.


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