I feel like I should start by saying this post is the reason Taylored for Resource exists. As a first year teacher, I searched high and low for some guidance whenever it came time to create my schedule. Nobody told me how difficult it would be. Nobody told me it would never really be complete. Nobody told me I would have 20-something students on 20-something different levels with 20-something different activities throughout the day to work around. As I became more confused about different things this position entails, I told myself I was going to gain some experience, and then go way out of my comfort zone & start a blog. I wanted to help first year teachers (or twenty-first year teachers) who are just as confused as I was. I am not an expert. I am not “tech savvy.” But I am here, I care, and I hope I can share some ideas with you. So without further ado, let’s get started!
Before you can fully create a schedule, you have to have a pretty good idea of what students you will be pulling together. To do this, I would suggest reading through all of your students’ IEPs and finding similar goals/academic levels. I try my best to also group by grade level, but if, for example, I have one Kindergartener and 2 First Graders with a letter recognition goal – it’s okay to pull them together!
Making the Schedule
This is where the fun begins. Making a schedule could be compared to putting together a 1000 piece puzzle, playing a game of Tetris on an advanced level, or solving a Rubiks cube with your eyes closed. But you will survive.
Tip #1 I start by (poorly) drawing a very large schedule. This time I drew it on a table, but I have also done it on a whiteboard and 4 pieces of chart paper taped together. The point is – make a big schedule. I section it into the times that I want to see my groups. I have my students that are on an adapted curriculum for 50 minute sessions, and my students that are on grade level for 25 minute sessions. I also block out times that I know I won’t be seeing students: lunch, planning, on-duty, etc.
#2 I write every one of my students on small post-its. I currently have 32 students, so yes, that’s 32 post-its. I write the student’s name, grade, and goal areas. I do this so I can physically move students around on the schedule. As I start seeing a trend in my groups, I’ll switch to writing all of their names onto one piece of paper.
#3 On the right side of my schedule I add in times I will not pull students as a reminder. For me, this is only lunch and P.E. times. This may look different for you depending on your school or district requirements. I choose not to work around art, library, computer lab, and so on because if I did, I’d never have a schedule. It’s easier for me to make my schedule, and if I go to get a student and they’re in the library I’ll make a note to pull them with a different group that day.
#4 While I’m working I make notes and changes along the way. This is why I find it important to use dry erase markers. They are very forgiving!
#5 I always make sure my schedule allows me to have a lenient day that I can plan for giving students tests, attending meetings, or pulling students that I’ve missed throughout the week. This year that day for me is on Thursday. If you’re able, I absolutely recommend doing this!
Creating a schedule is a daunting task. There’s no way around it. You can rest easy knowing that after several hours of hard work, you will be left with a pretty, functional schedule – until you get a few new students! 😉 What tips/ideas would you add to this list to make creating a schedule less of a hassle?