It's March and the discussions of how next year's schedule will come together has already started. Our principal has asked for use to balance out some priorities and I think hitting all of them would be impossible. So where do you make the trade offs? Here are some of the examples of conflicting factions.
We have been running an alternating block schedule for years now (approximately 90 minute classes that meet every other day), however some subjects and teachers feel that the 45 minute everyday class is better for reinforcing lessons and information (mostly in math, foreign language and freshmen courses). The problem? Introducing even one everyday period makes it harder to schedule upperclassmen in our regional vocational center because they have to attend for an entire day. So which takes priority?
The past few years, we have had common planning time in departments and a personal preparation period. In next year's schedule, it looks like we will have to alternate them (can't have both) because of declining enrollments.
Study halls. I have a personal disdain for them in general. Why should a structured educational environment have a "place holder" in the schedule where 90% of the students in the study hall socialize, skip or just goof off? Is it the job of the school to educate or herd people like cattle? However, if you ban study hall in your schedule, where do the students who have no class go? For seniors and juniors, you could have an open campus, but for sophomores and freshmen transportation and responsibility are reasons to this wouldn't work. Do we just make all students take a full load? What about students that struggle with the classes they already take?
These are only a handful of the issues we are dealing with in creating our schedule for next year. I didn't even get into the numbers games (how many courses each staff member has to prep for, how many kids in each classroom, how many AP course sections to offer).
Good news though, we did decide to drop a "remedial" set of courses that we had going this year which were really unsuccessful.
In a future blog post maybe I'll brainstorm some ideas where technology could help solve some of these issues.