The Scheduling Game

So we had a snow day this week (and more crappy weather threatening this week). Another day slips out of the third quarter, which still closes on Friday. As I adjusted my planning, I then learned I need to carve out time for my juniors to write resumes for mock interviews in April. Oh, and they need time in my class to fill out a form for the SATs, which everyone will take on April 30, where I turn from teacher to proctor. Then there’s the assembly on Friday where I lose teaching two of my freshman classes. Friday was the day I had to stop teaching so all five of my classes could take a state survey meaning I need to reschedule those two classes to take the survey before I lose access to the computers for HSA testing.

We’re playing a numbers game as the calendar dwindles and we still have no clue how we’re making back lost time or are receiving a waiver to not extend the calendar in some creative manner. The school is also talking about testing the block scheduling the final five weeks of the year which will require creative planning.

Students are also fretting as the quarter draws to a close. They have finally grokked that three failures in a row means they have no chance of passing the course. Some are failing multiple courses and are sweating. My coach classes are getting fuller and late work is showing up with regularity. Parents are starting to reach out, asking that their students be given the chance to make up missing work so they pass.

Teachers are studying the calendars and Unit 4 plans and shaking their head in bewilderment. How on earth can we cover all this? With fewer quarter 3 days, I find my plans slipping into quarter 4 and then I read how Unit 4 requires 10 weeks where I only have, at best, nine. We’re all starting to compare notes on what we can eliminate to get in the bigger works, preparing the students for the two big assessments.

And then there’s the impending final which will require review and preparation – more time away from actual teaching. Personally, I question the value of the final given a full year’s worth of work to demonstrate whether or not they know the material.

While this is not new to my peers, it’s a fresh set of circumstances for me. Thankfully, I have years of corporate scheduling experience to bring to this along with all the professional development that has focused on backward design – figure out what’s needed for the assessments and teach accordingly. Given my druthers, I’m likely to dump some poetry to get in a study of Fences (and baseball) and The Great Gatsby; which means American Literature will barely scratch the 20th Century let alone access the 21st. For the freshman, it means Romeo & Juliet and little else.

There’s this growing sense of stress that I find new and surprising and unwelcome. Obviously, we’ll get through it, but the constant uncertainty and revision adds to the daily pressures and leaves us even wearier.

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