Scheduling

Welcome to our learning module on Scheduling, one of the drivers that we identified during our initial retreat. Like with all of the drivers, we will be exploring, researching, discussing and reflecting on how scheduling can improve learning at Dr. Wilbert Keon School.

At the end of each of the modules, we will be presenting some conclusions summarizing the analysis and exchanges.

Scheduling has a direct impact on student lives at schools, and can be a decisive factor in terms of the school experience itself. The pandemic became a catalyst for rethinking the schedule, the frequency and intensity of learning modules, given the different nature of the online learning experience.

As we think of lessons learned in moving forward with returning to school in the new academic year, it is a very relevant exercise to try to discern all this new awareness can be translated into improvements in the schedule that are driven by learning.

For this shared exploration, we ask that you explore the resources below, and discuss as appropriate.

This video explains how 30 minute increments of time on Fridays are used to design a different kind of school schedule that allows for student choice. Our staff shares their talents and passions while also creating different activities and workshops to aid in the teaching and learning of academic content.

Short Survey

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Discussion

In the space below, please answer the following questions.

  • After exploring the resources above, which of the principles and suggestions mentioned in them are applicable to DWKS?
  • Knowing our school and its context, what ideas would you suggest as feasible improvements to our current schedule?

20 Replies to “Scheduling”

  1. Some thoughts
    – return to scheduling of “learning 3’s” in teaching timetables;
    – block an afternoon or period for special days(maybe something similar to Flex Friday video);
    – block an afternoon or period for teacher collaboration while specialist and EA’s run a program
    – liked the Arlington Woods Elem. scheduling of socialemotional time(our Wednesday HS advisories were a start to this)
    – I would be very interested in an analysis of time out of class/non-academic learning time
    – I would like to discuss varied lengths of class time- 70 minutes may work for some classes but other lengths may be beneficial for specific subject; might also benefit in large spaces between seeing students on a nine day schedule with weekends, sports days, snow days etc.

    1. Hi Christine,
      I am interested in all of your points!
      I find your point about discussing varied lengths of class time important, I often found that some of my classes felt long, and an overwhelming amount of time for students to be working on a topic. I would see many students work ethics decline as we got closer to the 70 minutes. Along with this point, I often chose to use a time-use strategy, sort of like a block scheduling as mentioned in the “Remaining Time” document.

  2. I love Flex Friday. As teachers, we all have different interests and skills that we could share with our students outside of the traditional curriculum. It would be a great way for students to explore and showcase their individual strenghts (Multiple Intelligence). I think Flex Friday afternoons would be feasible for our school.

    1. Hi Josée,
      I totally agree with you, our students have such unique interests and abilities. Giving them time to explore their own interests (as well as explore new interests), can help build their confidence, and help those who do not have a positive relationship with learning build a new relationship where they can see their potencial.

  3. I really appreciated the Arlington Woods model, making time for SEL and at the same time providing opportunity for teacher collaboration. The idea of social well-being and global citizenship have never been as important as they are today.
    A five day schedule could be really beneficial in the elementary as kids would find their environment more predictable.

    Flex Fridays would be so fun and engaging, kids would be motivated and they would connect to us deeper.

    1. Maybe with the 5 day schedule a Wellness Wednesday and Flex Friday could happen each week or alternating weeks. Thoughts to overcome scheduling difficulties with teachers who work both elementary and secondary(only 3 teachers last year I think) could be to have them only work in elementary during the morning and the HS in the afternoon(or vice versa) OR maybe the HS could work with a Monday-Friday schedule as well using different period lengths at certain times to accommodate for classes like POP and ERC.

  4. – Increased teachers’collaborative planning time – schedule all teachers in the same subject to have an off period at the same time
    – varied length of class time, students “tune out” after sitting for long periods of time
    – I love the idea of having an advisory period before lunch on Wednesdays as in Del Lago Academy…half way point to the week.
    – I would like to see time allotted for meeting students individually …mental health/school work/career planning a “touching base” time
    – Blocking in staff in a “quiet space/room” for students to go when they need a quiet space

    1. Hi Karen,
      I love your allotting time for students individually point, I think this would be a great way for teachers to touch base with students and it may allow them to feel more welcome to share if it was a scheduled time (as they know that time is for them). Especially this coming year if we may not be able to have our advisories in the morning (due to Covid) to check in with our students.

  5. After reading through the documents and watching the video, I believe DWKS students could really thrive with the creation of a schedule that is inclusive of the following:
    – Time for SEL
    – Time for student driven learning (Flex Fridays)
    I think these could be simple changes that make a huge impact on student learning and self-confidence. However, I feel that with our 9 day schedule, it may be a bit harder to incorporate these times (especially within the secondary schedule). I wonder what might be some ways we might be able to smoothly introduce these much-needed times?

  6. Great thoughts/points everyone! I agree with everything you have said. I especially love the Flex Friday idea.
    I also agree that 70 minute periods can be extremely long for some classes.

  7. There is so much to learn from these resources! Here are some of the things that really struck me as important for our school:
    – allow time for students entering high school to discuss how they are managing the change and help them manage the many challenges (this really applies to all our students)
    – if we experiment with time in scheduling then it is really important that we provide feedback; for example how did our time use strategies work; this is how we will determine if it is a better model
    – give time for teachers to collaborate; teach concepts that apply to many subjects at the same time, allows for periods to be combined, team teaching, interdisplinary projects
    – give time for students to explore personal interests and possible career paths; this could be done on a “flex. day”
    – as educators I feel we need to learn and incorporate a variety learning experiences for our students
    – teach students (and myself as well) the skill of using time more productively (self-directed learning)
    – the idea of incorporating some virtual learning (the way of the future??), maybe one day of the week??
    – more access to multi-use spaces at all times of the day; this would need supervision but I feel we do need to prepare our students to be more “creative, innovative and dynamic thinkers”
    – I love the idea of the “flex.” day; I feel we definitely need to give this idea a try

    All of the ideas and feedback from everyone is really great!

    1. There are so many fantastic ideas and comments.
      I love the ideas of trying Wellness Wednesdays and Flex Fridays. Exploring personal interests, their short and long term goals, …
      What about practicing correct typing skills and in cursive, creating their own personal signature (way of the past and still needed in present) and understanding the disabilities we have in our school, ie: ADHD, ADD, Muscular Dystrophy, Autism. Asthma, Anxiety, … (just a thought).
      -I also agree that a quiet space/Sensory Room, is needed, I saw many positive changes when I worked in the former elementary Sensory Room.

      1. Hi Kerry
        I really like the idea of teaching students about conditions and illnesses. Maybe part of Wellness Wednesday!

  8. I think a five day schedule with classes of varying lengths would work well in elementary. I agree that we need to incorporate SEL into every day (advisory/class meetings). I like the idea of personal interest projects, perhaps one per term. Maybe we could have a 30 minute block on Flex Fridays for a time to work on projects. I love the idea of Flex Fridays! We have so many talented teachers and I think it would empower students to be able to choose which sessions they would like to attend. I also agree that teachers who teach the same subject and cycle should have planning blocks together. We also need to prepare ourselves and our students for online learning.

  9. I am SO happy to be included in this study! TIME is our most precious commodity and HOW we use it is critical. There has been some good from COVID and forcing a reexamination of how we teach and learn is one big positive. I’m no scheduling genius, but many of our classes have been too long!!! Examine the criteria for measuring student engagement and we fall short. DWKS can continue to take pride in the social/emotional coaching done by most teachers but advisory has to change! We looked at this a few years ago….I’m all for professional development but as an outsider looking in, I feel there are way too many PD days…..so many interruptions! My strong vision includes a small cohort of students and small number of teachers with multi-curricular responsibilities…..make teaching and learning interdisciplinary and project-based with students demonstrating proficiency when they get it-no prescribed time frame! The smaller the group, the easier to make frequent checks on progress and structure appropriate interventions for those not meeting standard…..”OH the places to go” said Seuss or something like that…..DWKS has ALL the ingredients to make this change possible and with our numbers EVERY child MUST SUCCEED! Okay, I’ll temper my enthusiasm…..maybe!

    1. Hi Colleen,
      Though number of PD days is set by the ministry, perhaps with our new daycare program, we can support the working with students who are in the building on these (numerous) days and even encourage others to attend(discussions with parents).
      Regarding advisory at the HS- I think we have come leaps and bounds over the last year or two( 5 day schedule; curriculum focus and notable learning; SEL on Wednesdays). Always looking to improve but definitely moving in the right direction.

  10. Wow love flex friday idea! I agree with all of you we have very talented staff and students and we should explore those individual gifts more! I’m a big believer that students will apply themselves more in their research, reading, writing and presentations if they are able to choose something that really interests them and explore that.

    1. For me;
      Article 1 points : awareness of student learning time; there is no one formula, each school needs to address its particular situation; high expectations for all, support all students to reach these.; power of collaborative teach(er) (ing) time; importance of “project base learning”; importance of personal “interest” learning; increasing uninterrupted learning time
      Article 2 points : The (4) steps to scheduling development: (1) determine goals, (2) understand parameters, (3) select underlying structure and (4) incorporate flexibility.
      Video: …a focused “break” for students to self select learning activity and challenged staff to reflect on “use” of time….a “win-win” for NTH.

      1. Self-directed learning is so very important and I believe one of the articles commented on the need to teach the essentials of this……we can’t assume kids know what it means. The flex Friday structure is interesting….at my school in Maine we did something very similar (called it Friday Friends) and it involved ALL staff-lots of positives but sustainability became the issue….would love to explore again…..unless it’s sustainable and its value can be clearly articulated, there is the risk of having another add-on within a schedule where TIME is that precious commodity…..

  11. Hello everyone!
    I have read and watched many of the resources from the scheduling section.
    Here are a few key points that caught my attention for our school.

    We need to accommodate for opportunity and achievement gaps.
    – changing our scheduling to allow equitable student outcomes
    – a 5 day schedule would be very nice from k-11.
    – Is it possible at the high school level?

    2) I really like the idea of flexible grouping. I think this falls under or
    could be linked with the personalized learning instruction model.
    – With the size of our school, I have always wanted to try having our
    math (multiple groupings) at the same time with students and a few
    teachers facilitating and teaching in the same room.
    – Students would be working at their level despite their age. That’s how
    music is taught in large groups. One of the studies identified “…students who
    were grouped by ability within a class for reading were able to make up to an
    additional half of a year’s growth in reading.” Students receive the right content
    at the right time in order to grow academically and to feel good about their learning.

    3) I also really like the idea of virtual learning days!
    I think this could be implemented at our school.
    As pointed out from an article, work from home days:
    – introduces students to online work
    – gives students the opportunity to work independently
    – builds skills for life after high school
    – can be used on snow days / absent students
    – can allows time for teacher pd

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