This year as a first-year administrator, I was given the responsibility of student scheduling. This forced me to learn really fast what is involved in putting students in their classes. As a teacher, I really didn’t think about the process involved in scheduling. I just expected the students to show up, and I’d teach them. This year, however, I was given a crash course on scheduling. Thankfully, a lot of the pre-scheduling had been done by my predecessor, but there was still a lot to learn.
I thought I would write down some of the lessons I learned during the process. I don’t know if this post will be helpful to anyone else, but at least next year I’ll have something to read to refresh my memory.
Running the Loader
The Loader is the computer program that will take all the information about the students and randomly place them in their classes based on their grade level, class requests, program identification, etc. The more work you do before running the loader, the less work you’ll have to do after it is run. There are always going to be adjustments that have to be made, but if you can foresee the problems, you can avoid having to make too many.
What To Do While Creating a Master Schedule
1. Make sure teachers are in teaching in their credentialed area.
2. Change exploratory classes or Academic Support Core classes to reflect their credentialed area.
3. Resource and English Learner classes need to be small in enrollment size.
4. Make classes both honors and non-honors to accommodate future schedule changes better. It would be nice to have an all honors class, but doing this limits the options for future scheduling.
5. Create a line of classes that a student can follow. For example: 1st period history, 2nd period language arts, 3rd period science 4th period math.
6. Keep teachers in interdisciplinary teams as much as possible, so they see the same students.
7. Keep preps based on subject area, so they can collaborate about specific areas of learning. Having same preps for interdisciplinary teams limits the ability to collaborate for student success. Teams can meet before and after school for parent meetings or SSTs.
8. Balance out class size within teams before school starts.
9. Recruit for specialized classes before school starts. (Band, leadership, yearbook, AVID etc. )
10. Create a visual depiction of the master schedule. Make it color coded for Honors, RSP, EL, etc.
11. Create a section for TA’s. Have teachers specify how many TA’s they want and for what period.
12. Create a section under the PE Department head’s roster for off campus PE students.
Reports to Run
1. Grid Master – Displays how many students are in each class for each period. This allows you to balance out the classes.
2. Unscheduled Requests – This tells you how many students didn’t get into their requested classes. It’s important, because you might have a student who requested an honors class, but because of a conflicting scheduling period, he/she didn’t get it. This is where you’ll have to manually adjust a schedule.
3. Unscheduled Period – This is a report that displays if there are any students with schedules who have a period where they have no class.
Expect the following:
1. Requests to move student from non-honors to honors classes.
2. Requests to move lunches.
3. Students with no schedule.
4.New student enrollment.
5. Teacher requests to balance out their classes.
Things to remember
1. Have a schedule change request form. Make sure it requires signatures from teachers and parents. Some students will come in to request a change in classes just because they don’t like the teacher or they want to be in a class with their friends. A specialized form will weed out frivolous requests.
2. Students in specialized classes like Algebra Support or Language Arts Support are placed there because they are below proficient on their state tests. These placements cannot be changed until proficiency has been demonstrated.
3. The Walk-In-Scheduler, the schedule-generating computer program, isn’t always the best way to schedule a student. You need to check class sizes and availability. It might be a good idea to specify a particular team by making sure that one of the classes must be scheduled with a teacher on the team.
4. Before moving a student out of an honors class or into an honors class, check with parents first and make sure past history supports the move.
5. Resource trumps ELD. That is, if there is a scheduling conflict between a Resource class and an English Learner’s class, I have to place that student in a Resource class. Resource students have individualized education plans (IEP) that require they receive specialized education.
I know there are lessons that I’ve missed, and I’ll probably be adding to this post as they come to me.
I never saw student scheduling as something that involved so many components. Now that it’s part of my responsibilities, I’m appreciating all those administrators who made all my students fit neatly in their classes.
That’s all for now.
Do you have any questions, comments, suggestions or other points to remember when scheduling a student?
I would appreciate any comments.