Proactive Scheduling

Sep 3, 2012 by

Proactive Scheduling

In over 25 years of scheduling speech and language students only ONE year did I work with an administrator who had the foresight to create a schedule for our special needs students before the end of the previous school year.  You might ask why I am writing about this in September.  Well, it takes  pre-planning  and scheduling insight to get to the point where scheduling in June for the following September can actually be done. 

Three factors happened that actually made this scheduling process possible.

  1. The overall school schedule was remaining consistent the next year.  My recent experience tells me this doesn’t happen too often.  Having a consistent schedule year after year is actually a positive universal support and something schools should strive for.
  2. Staffing was remaining the same in terms of the positions not necessarily the people.
  3. We had the time to do it.  Because of this particular program manager/team facilitator  (whatever they’re called in your district) common sense, we were finished with our re-evals and all IEP meetings 3 weeks before school ended.  Not only did we have the time to see students up until the last week of school we had time to finish our progress reports and plan for the following school year.  It was an amazingly calm end to the school year.  Re-evals and IEP meetings can always be moved up.  There will always be unknown factors like a last minute referral or an IEP that needs to be redrafted.  But it is possible to avoid the stressful end of year crunch with a little foresight and effort.

This is how the scheduling process worked. 

  1. The entire team which included the special education teacher for each grade, the school psychologist an the speech language pathologist met without reservation.   We were excited to work on this.  Our highly organized program manager arrived with copies of all the information we needed and a process in mind.
  2. Using a computer overhead with a template on a white board (we were 3 months away from smart board technology in our school, image how that might have sped up the process) we look at individual grade schedules (we were scheduling 3 middle school grades).  To this schools credit, they provided a one hour “study hall” block, for each grade at different times,  in which many activities took place for both regular and special education students.
  3. We looked at specialists schedules.  We considered all aspects of individual schedules such as specialists that were only in certain days of the week or had other specific commitments in schools such as working in the classrooms.  Our administrator was also aware of other factors such as planning time, lunch and meeting time.
  4. We scheduled students that had limited flexibility or high frequency of services first.    Lower functioning students who spend time in a separate program usually have more flexibility in the schedule than the typical language learning disabled student who follows the general classroom and school schedule.
  5. We filled in blocks, erased, shuffled but finally came up with a schedules that looked like they might work.  Having more than one set of eyes on the scheduling process helped to find and resolve conflicts easily.  We of course took notes comparing and double checking along the way.
  6. Our program manager took the responsibility of putting final information into the computer and distributing schedules.

Because of this administrator’s vision, effort, intelligence, commonsense and actually taking charge, we were able to start seeing students the first week of school the following September.  I know it took our administrator a year or so to push up and space out the IEP meetings so we could have a relaxing end to our year.  I thanked her for that.  Not having to deal with scheduling in the fall was well worth the minimal time and effort spent in June.  I thanked her for that too.


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