3 Tips to Use Your Master Schedule to Embark Change in Your District


I LOVE the scheduling process.  It is a challenge and a fun puzzle that I enjoyed being a part of during my time in education.  We had the old school “whiteboard” mentality when it came for building the master schedule, and then we scheduled students 1 at a time, by hand!  We had a small population but we did not trust the scheduler to customize the schedule with the best interest of the school, students, AND teachers in mind.

I recently read an article by Katrina Schwartz that sparked my interest in how a school’s master schedule can foster growth and change.  The power of the master schedule cannot be underestimated and it is often overlooked.  I see this ALL the time in demonstrations where people quickly point the finger to those who are responsible!  You know what I mean.  It is similar to when someone brings up state regulatory reporting and everyone defers to the few people who deal with it on a daily basis!  The master schedule is much more than a laboring, tedious project.

“The master schedule is to a school, what grading policies are to teachers and classrooms.  It reveals the true beliefs, attitudes, values, and priorities of the school.  The school’s master schedule is looking at an MRI of the inner workings of a school.  It is the window to the soul of the school.”

“The Master Schedule: A Culture Indicator.” – NASSP

Chew on that thought for a moment.  (No really, think about it for a minute or two!)  The quote takes all that finger pointing that I described above and turns the finger to yourself.  Yes, a few people might lay the master schedule out, but it takes all stakeholders involved to fulfill it and satisfy the main objective: giving students every opportunity to discover their love, passion for learning while providing them all the experiences they need to prepare them for their future.

3 Tips to Prepare Yourself for Scheduling Season:

  1. Decide what your vision as a district/building/campus is and what skills you want them to possess when they leave. This is the start and honestly, you cannot go to 2 and 3 before ironing this out.  I know it is late in the year to start drastic changes, but it is not too late to take baby steps.  The other positive is that now you know where you want to be in a year so you can analyze this schedule process for 2017 and really start to iron out where you want to be in 2018.  Rome was not built in a day and neither will your scheduling masterpiece! 
  1. Analyze your course catalog and consider revising their names and descriptions. It is all about the foundation and your course catalog is just that: The foundation of all learning that will occur in your school.  I have talked with many districts who are in love with the idea of change, personalized learning, flipped learning, 1 to 1 technology, BYOD, etc. BUT have had issues with getting others to buy in.  While reviewing your course catalog, take time to ask yourself if the course titles, descriptions, objectives match your district vision.  If yes, move right on to number 3!  If not, this is your chance to foster change and encourage growth!  Take time to rewrite the course titles and descriptions to match your vision and encourage your teachers to provide their input.  You may discover that teachers are already meeting the standard and would welcome a chance to define their own course.
  1. Find a product that supports your scheduling needs, goals, and objectives. This is a crucial part because if you hand schedule like me for 150 kids it takes about 2 ½ days, but if you are doing it for thousands, well, get some coffee and buck up!  Finding a program that will allow you to customize how your schedule is run is crucial so that you can be sure that you can break the pedagogical model and re-define the process.  (Contact SunGard K-12 to see how we can aid you in this journey)

So who is ready to embark on a journey for change at your school, district, or campus?  Remember, this cannot happen overnight and that this is a project that can easily take a year or more, but why not start now!?

Get your group of advisors together, discuss your vision, analyze your course catalog, find advocates for change in your district, get your messaging straight, and find a program that fits your scheduling needs and let’s rediscover (Insert your district name here)!  Good luck and best wishes!

Here is a video that highlights how Henry County School in Georgia is doing this very thing.


Middle School Suicides Reach An All-Time High

Please read this article by Alissa Nadworthy via nprEd.

This is something that all of us need to educate ourselves on and be prepared to discuss with our students and children.  In today’s world students have access to information in seconds and social media is a breeding ground for bullying.


How to Spark Curiosity in Children Through Embracing Uncertainty

This article is written by Linda Flanagan and comes via Mind/shift.  She does a great job highlighting strategies to spark curiosity.  I highlighted her thoughts below.  Read the article for more details and to see how this can happen at home as well as school!

Address the emotional impact of uncertainty. 

Assign projects that provoke uncertainty.

Adopt a non-authoritarian teaching style to encourage exploration, challenge and revision. 

Emphasize the current topics of debate in a field. 

Invite guest speakers to share the mysteries they’re exploring.

Show how the process of discovery is often messy and non-linear.


These are the 100 U.S. school districts that are actively pursuing socioeconomic integration – The Washington Post


10 Common Mental Health Problems Students Face

Great post from Amanda Green, via Edudemic, that highlights 10 Common Mental Health Problems Students Face.  She cites that 1 in 7 children between the ages of 2 and 8 experience mental health disorders.

Here are her 10, check the article for more details!

  1. ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
  2. Anxiety
  3. Depression
  4. Autism Spectrum Disorders
  5. PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  6. OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
  7. Tourette Syndrome
  8. ODD (Obsessive Defiant Disorder)
  9. CD (Conduct Disorder)
  10. Eating Disorders

Global Survey Finds 5 Most Valued Qualities for Teachers

Pearson surveyed over 13,000 people in 23 different countries in a search to see what makes teachers effective.  Their findings may not be ground breaking and more along the common sense line BUT it still reaffirms what many of us think.

Check out the post and the study.  Here are the top 5 most valued qualities:

  1. The ability to develop trusting, compassionate relationships with students
  2. Patient, caring, and kind personality
  3. Professionalism
  4. Subject matter knowledge
  5. Knowledge of learners



How to Spark Learning Everywhere Kids Go – Starting with the Supermarket

This article, posted by Anya Kamenetz via nprEd, is great because it discusses how we get spark learning everywhere that we go.  We want our students to be life-long learners and what better way to do it that to spark inquiry and learning no matter where they are.  The article highlights a project called Urban Thinkscape.

This is a must read because it is awesome!

How Domestic Violence in One Home Can Affects Every Child in a Class

How many of you have witnessed the affects of domestic violence?  As a father of 3 daughters, when you hear domestic violence it makes me want to turn away because I am intimidated by the potential result of the story.  As a teacher who has witnessed how it affects children I feel like I need to come running to aid the child as best I can.  Gabrielle Emanuel writes an article, via NPR, that does a great job painting the picture for how this affects more than just the child enduring the hardship.

Here is one take away I had to share…

“On the days Brett Welch is in the building, she stands by the door as students leave.

‘You tell them that you love them because you do,’ Welch says. ‘And because maybe that’s what they need to be able to get through whatever they need to get through at home.'”

Be a positive influence in your students lives, go out of your way to make them feel safe and loved and you will make a difference!

6 Principles of Genius Hour in the Classroom

What is Genius Hour?  It is an approach to learning that is build around discovery, curiosity, and self-directed learning.

Terry Heick and Teach Thought bring you the “6 Principles of Genior Hour in the Classroom”.

Here are the 6:

  • Sense of purpose
  • 80/20 rule
  • Socialization
  • Creating
  • Inquiry
  • Design

4 Simple Ideas to Use Technology to Engage Students

Last week I posted about a podcast with suggestions to getting started with technology in the classroom.  Here is another resource from Rachelle Dene Poth via Teach Thought.

Here are her 4 ideas:

  • Use infographics to create an engaging syllabus
  • Create Interactive Lessons
  • Student Created Lessons
  • Use engaging digital quizzes and tools