Friday, July 5, 2013

Creating a classroom schedule...

It is this time of year when I have many conversations with teachers about creating their classroom schedules.  As a literacy coach, it is my role to listen, hear beliefs, see constraints, understand purposes, acknowledge promises, and support defining structures that are predictable and maintainable.

Here is a walk through of creating a classroom schedule that considers variables, illuminates beliefs, and makes promises.

1.  Plug in variables that you do not have control over...lunch, recess, specials, etc...
 2.  If your team has decided to have any common math or language arts blocks, this is the time to plug them in.  It is easy to see open spots as you discuss your common goal.  The team below needed a common math time so they could include the intervention teacher and the gifted intervention specialist.
 3.  Look for predictable, consecutive chunks of time.  Students need to feel the routine and promise of structures put into their day and for you...planning and responding to their needs the next day.

4.  List your priorities (your non-negotiables) that match your promises, beliefs, and visions.  Number one on this list was having read aloud at the end of the day.  The teacher wanted read aloud to be the last thing they did together, the last thing they remember doing, and a storyline that would leave them wondering, thinking, talking and longing to come back the next day as the students went to the buses.
 5.  Finding a reading workshop time that was open, consecutive, and was about an hour and a half.
 6.  Finding a time to put in an inquiry workshop that could connect to content area times.  With the way this schedule worked...planning inquiry workshop would have to be thought of as Friday, Monday, Tuesday so the lessons were consecutive.  This was the point that library and designated computer time was incorporated into the schedule.  Library for research and technology was needed to be a part of curricular inquiry circles.  Library had to bump read aloud on Mondays...but the read aloud book would be made as a possible mentor text for reading workshop on those days.
 7.  Needed to fill in word study and writing workshop.  Writing workshop won its spot because it lent itself to 50 minutes...four days in a row.
 8.  Define moments.  I always encourage teachers to "break it down.".  You will know if the times work based on how you define the moments within the larger chunk of time.  This is the time to plug in routines.  Defining moments is one step that is often skipped and can end up losing your way early in the year...teachers often want to see if the big blocks of times work before defining.  Defining is the most crucial lets you see if the structures you need are maintainable.  Notice: morning work is not worksheets (a belief that was wanted in this schedule).  Morning work contains routines that are needed to make the year or day run smoothly.
The best bit of advice: create it with a colleague and think of schedules as a process. When you have someone listening through the process...they can help you discover and reflect on what is most important.


  1. This is so powerful for so many reasons. It is so easy to get stuck, mad, angrier etc with setting a class schedule. But your simple steps are right there to follow. My favorite part is that I am going to to do read aloud at the end of the day next year because of my schedule -biggest block of time. I am a little nervous but excited like you posted to have conversations that may linger into the evening and into the next day. Did you see Tara's post about plan books today: Two friends on the same page :)

    1. I am so glad that you found this powerful. Creating a scheduling is frustrating, exciting, enlightening...a whirl of emotions and anticipation! I loved, loved, aloud at the end of the day. It was a perfect way to end the day, monitor our big questions....I enjoyed watching them line up to go home and talk about characters, plot, predictions. Hopefully the last thing we did was the first thing they shared when they got home. Off to check out Tara's post! Thanks for continuing to comment and share! :)