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Jun 20

No Flexible Schedule Next Year

(Note: I wrote this post originally using Dragon Dictation.  I had to go back and do quite of a bit of editing.  The writing isn’t the greatest, sorry.  No more blog posts using Dragon Dictation).

Excitement has turned into disappointment for me over the past several months.  Many of the school librarians in my district have been working together to formulate a new plan to continue providing quality library services to our students.  The plan that we developed would move us from a fixed schedule to a flexible schedule.  My department spent a lot of time reading articles about flexible schedules and the benefits for students.  We worked with the Director of Curriculum Instruction in our district, who is the head of our department, for quite some time developing a plan to make the transition.  We met with the Superintendent two weeks before school got out and presented the plan to him.  He was supportive of the idea but was a little hesitant making the move district wide, which was understandable.  He suggested that anywhere from 3 to 5 of our 11 elementary schools participate in a pilot project moving to a flexible schedule next year.  For classroom teachers, this would mean a reduction in prep time of one hour per week.  He asked if we had some ideas on schools that would be interested in being part of the pilot.  I thought my school would be one for sure.

This was something I’ve been working on for long time and felt pretty strongly about.  I think the flexible schedule meets the needs of students and teachers a lot better than a regular fixed schedule.  I know there were still a lot of questions that we had about moving to a flexible schedule.  The superintendent suggested we touch base with classroom teachers to find out what they thought and then have a meeting with the staff.  Discussions with the principal we’re going to take place first.  The principal was completely on board with this transition.  When I talked with each of the classroom teachers for a few minutes the days following the meeting with the superintendent, everyone seemed pretty positive.  I didn’t have anybody who was feeling really negative about it but didn’t want to do it. There were a few questions here and there but nothing that seemed to be raising any red flags.  We held a staff meeting on the Tuesday before school got out with the idea of making the move to a flexible schedule.  We had more discussions about this idea of moving to a flexible schedule at a staff meeting and more and more questions came out.  I felt a little blindsided by this because the discussions that I had earlier with people seemed as though everyone was on board.  Now, however, it seemed sort of the opposite.  There were more and more questions, but ran out of time at the faculty meeting discussing the idea.  We decided to continue the discussion two days later.  The second meeting was productive but a little bit heated at times.  Reluctantly, the group came to the conclusion that the staff was not ready to move to a flexible schedule.

I was really disappointed.  I really felt that this was the best move for the school.  Unfortunately, there were so many questions that the teachers still had that we didn’t have answers for.  They wanted to have a little bit more certainty moving forward so we scrapped the plan and are going to work on some things next year that will help us transition to a flexible schedule.  The district will most likely be moving in this direction the following school year.  Teachers felt as though the year to plan and prepare will help us do a better job of moving to a flexible schedule. I don’t disagree with some of the things that concern the teachers, but overall I do think we could’ve pulled off.  Oh well.

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DENnis Grice
DENnis Grice

I understand your disappointment. I've been there. A few years ago I reluctantly went along the the decision to delay our middle school 1:1 program for a year. While I was confident we could have pulled it off, in the long run it turned out to be for the best. When you're making a big change like that it's important to have total buy in from all your stakeholders. You want your first year to be as successful a possible. It's better to wait a year and have everyone on your side, than to move ahead and risk a push back from those who "don't get it" or aren't ready. Use this year to really promote the program, get people excited about, and help them see your vision of what it could be.