School Schedules

One of the reasons I love the Digital Age in education is how it has forced us to challenge conventional wisdom--one of my favorite hobbies.  From infrastructure spending to pedagogy, the Digital Age has stirred the pot and made us question how and why we do things.  Currently, my school is trying to decide what to do with spring parent/teacher conferences.  Since every student has their own Macbook, students and parents check their grades daily online.  I have exchanged emails or phone calls with most of the 7th grade students and parents.  The 7th grade team has had dozens of parent meetings during the school day.  Why do we need to schedule time to sit in the same room?  Granted, some would benefit, but we are challenging one of the traditional pillars of education—something we don’t do enough of.
As a district, we are looking at new calendar options and daily schedule models.  Next year every student will have their own computer in grades 4-12, so this should dramatically change the conversation and conventional wisdom of school scheduling.  At this point I have more questions than answers, but I am eager to have this discussion:
  • Some of my class days are 'work days' for the kids, where I facilitate, but I could easily do this digitally--do we all need to be in the same room?  
  • How can teacher collaboration by grade/building/district and beyond be regularly scheduled?  How long should the school day be?
  • Do classes need to meet every day?  Can all students handle the responsibility?  
  • I typically answer emails from students from 8-10 pm, should teachers keep virtual "office hours"?  Would we need traditional P/T conferences at all?
  • Do I need to meet with each class every day, if not, what would that mean for attendance?
  • Are 9-week report cards obsolete when students/parents check online grade books 24/7?
  • Are grades the best way to measure a 21st Century classroom? 
 While I don't think we are ready for a radical schedule shift at Wabash City School just yet, we need to keep these conversations in mind.  After a few years more teachers will be more comfortable with 1:1 learning and a 21st Century classroom, maybe then we can design a 21st Century Schedule for the Digital Age.  Any feedback/advice would be greatly appreciated!


  1. Your questions are so dead on. Are others in your building asking them as well?

    Personally, these are the very issues that have been nagging me for years. I finally did something about it by proposing a radical new approach to curriculum and schedule to the superintendent. He liked what he saw and gave us the green light to move forward.

    My advice, get a group of like minded teachers, formulate a plan to "do" school better, and share it with anybody who will listen. Often, positive change only needs a little initiative to get it going.

  2. Thanks for your comments and encouragement. I am very lucky to have such a group of brave innovative educators. We helped to create a Student Accountability Program--a holistic evaluation of a middle school experience that looks grades, attendance, discipline, standardized test (we were forced to include this), extra-curricular, etc. to evaluate student progress, rather than a letter.

    This same group helped to initiate and design a plan for us to move to 1:1 computing, which we did this year every student in grades 6-8 has their own Macbook, and thanks to our excellent administrators, our entire school grades 4-12 will have their own Macbook next year! Wabash is a great place to work.


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