Timetable Challenge

I had this down as a post to flesh our further over the holidays, but a tweet from Helen Otway sparked a conversation between Richard Lambert, Linda Amos and David Simpson around school timetables so I pulled it forward.

Created by Smabs Sputzer - Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 Licence

Created by Smabs Sputzer - Used under a Creative Commons 2.0 Licence

This year, the school I teach at is moving towards an open-plan,co-teaching environment.

Whilst we still have “classes” (eg: 3A) for administrative purposes like roll marking, students will not referred to by their “class” but by their year level. This means that the students will have a number of teachers who oversee their learning. Teachers will not be allocated classrooms, but rather teams will be allocated learning spaces which they can use for their teaching and learning activities.

This new approach to teaching combined with our exponential growth (We opened with over 450 students are expecting to be around 650 by the end of next year) means that we are investigating our timetable and daily organisation and how we can best support this model of teaching and learning.

Last year, we operated a very traditional style weekly timetable. Our daily structure looked like:

  • 2 x 1 hour teaching blocks (includes 10 minutes eating prior to recess)
  • Recess of 30 minutes
  • 2 x 1 hour teaching blocks (includes 15 minutes eating prior to lunch)
  • Lunch of 45 minutes
  • 1 x 1 hour teaching block

Our Specialist Program consisted of Visual Arts, Physical Education, ICT and LOTE (AUSLAN – Australian Sign Language).  These sessions went for 1 hour a week, with the exception of Prep PE and ICT classes which were timetabled as 2 x 30 minute sessions. LOTE was also timetabled for all classes as 2 x 30 minute lessons.

Visual Arts, Physical Education and LOTE were all taught by specialist teachers which provided the classroom teacher with their APT (Allocated Preparation Time). Classroom teachers sat in on the LOTE sessions.

Our specialist classes were usually timetabled at the same time as other classes in that year level. (Eg: 3A would have PE, 3B would have ART, 3C would have ICT). This would allow for the teachers in that year level to meet and plan together.

We had a total of 21 classes which allowed for each specialist to see their classes plus receive their own APT and attend our assembly each week (1 hour)

This year, our total number of classes will increase and school leadership have added Environmental Science and Performing Arts to the specialist program.

Ideally, the specialist program should be integrated into the classroom program; not seen as a tacked on program.

The challenge we are facing is how can we deliver a specialist program that enables all classes to recieve equal access, without compromising the quality of the specialists or classroom teaching program and allow all teachers to still receive their allocated APT, ideally together to support our co-teaching approach????

So, how does it work at your school ?

What specialist programs do you offer ?

How is your timetable structured ?

What do you find are the strengths and\or weaknesses of working this way ?

6 thoughts on “Timetable Challenge

  1. Dale Mills

    We have 6 specialist classes now at our school; Phys Ed (1hr), Performing Arts (1hr), Visual Arts (1hr), Environmental Education (1hr), SAKG Garden (1hr) and SAKG Kitchen programs (2hrs).

    The P-2 students have Enviro Ed and PE each for an hour a week. They also do VA and PA for a semester each.

    Our 4-6 students will have PE for an hour a week, then do a semester of VA/PA for an hour each, and a semester of Kitchen and Garden. The 3’s are similar to this, but with only an hour in the Kitchen (the 4-6s have two hours to enable them to cook meals etc. The classroom teachers attend one hour of this).

    The wide range of options comes down a lot to space and time. With 43 classes, obviously there isn’t time every week for everyone to do those classes that can require dedicated spaces such as art.

    Our timetable is structured the same way as yours, with real attempts made to put teachers in year levels on APT at the same time. This also assists specialists; for example there will often be 2 PA classes or 3 PE classes at the same time… helps if they are all in the same year level.

    1. mrduncan Post author

      Hi Dale,

      Thanks for the feedback – I was sure there was someone else at a large school dealing with the same issues surrounding lots of classes and limited scheduling possibilities.

      When you say that “there will often be 2 PA classes or 3 PE classes” does this mean that you have 2 PE classes running at the same time for the same year level ? Do you have more that one teacher then taking the session ?

      Any chance you have a copy of your timetable that I could take a look at to see how it works logistically ?



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