Changing student schedules midyear needn’t be overwhelming, when you create a Community of Practice.

Change Student Schedules Midyear? A 6-Step Process for Tough Initiatives

As a school leader, you constantly have to make really tough decisions, especially in the last few years! And what can be more nerve-wracking for school principals and leaders than trying to change student schedules midyear? A few things, but not many! Yet that thought had been percolating in my mind for months. I wasn’t thinking about a student dropping a course or changing classes. I wanted to effect a school-wide change to the student schedule.

I was a principal at the time, and I had been thinking about student schedules for some time. In October, it burst into my mind and I had to do something big, something that I wasn’t sure the other school members would get behind. I was afraid they’d think I was off my rocker. I knew some would say my idea was impossible. But I knew it was possible and I knew we could make it work.

 It’s been said that a full student schedule change takes between nine months and two years to design and implement. And I was proposing that we change schedules mid-year with only a few short months to make this happen. In the following video, I look back on this huge project and briefly tell you how it was achieved. 

The lessons learned will hopefully help you the next time you feel like you need to speak up and initiate a big change in how things are done at your school.

As a new school principal and leader, I wondered if I could speak up. Was it safe? Would I be heard? Would it impact my job security? Yet it had to be done because students were not being served. Student schedules were not thought through and students had no voice in the simple task of a class schedule that impacted their future education and job prospects. I remember thinking, people will hate me if I suggest changing student schedules mid-year. 

But that’s what I did by…

  • Gathering teams of teachers to discuss what the impact might be and what would help them the most in this type of mid-year transition. 
  • Meeting with teams of students to hear their concerns and ideas. I always got the best ideas from listening to the students. 
  • Brainstorming with my registrar who would have to execute the new schedule design. 

We came up with a plan, together. We implemented, together. We lived with the consequences, together. This became part of my “S.L.I.D.E. Into Success” Process that I developed as a school leader. 

What does the acronym S.L.I.D.E. stand for?

  • Stop
  • Listen
  • Ideate
  • Design
  • Execute 

What does each step of this process entail? Here’s are some brief highlights:

STOP: Notice what is being done as a whole and what you personally are doing in regard to it. Really see and identify by making a note of what is working and what isn’t and why.

LISTEN: Ask questions of everyone involved, individually and then as a collective group, to learn how each person thinks and feels about the present situation and what they see as strengths and weaknesses.. 

IDEATE: Gather submissions from each individual on how they would solve the problems. Assign smaller teams to brainstorm and report their findings to the collective group for further consideration.

DESIGN: Documenting ideas into workable processes. Break down big projects, into small doable steps.

EXECUTE: Assign who will do what, so nothing falls through the cracks. Hold regular check-in sessions, so each one is held accountable, as well as supported, through the rough times. In no time at all, you’ll have new student schedules, even if it is midyear (or whatever big, bold goal you set for your team)!

There is one more step to my process…Evaluate! Don’t forget to cycle back and re-gather input;  this cements the learning and helps others understand that you aren’t just a reactive leader but a learning leader.

Being a Social Learning Leader takes three things: time, a focus on people, and the desire to make things better. We often dismiss the first “‘it takes too long”), don’t understand the second (“what’s a community of practice, I think I’m doing that, so I’ll check the box as complete”), and we focus on the third (“I’m helping!”) and we end up missing the target and unfortunately reaping unintended consequences. 

As school principals and learning leaders, I know that you face the daunting job of creating an equity-centered learning environment, plus engendering high team commitment and engagement. I’ve been in your shoes.

That means I understand why the typical coaching available for Learning Leaders isn’t enough. It’s designed to support principals and leaders personally. While that’s vital, I’m passionate about helping you to take steps beyond that — to teach you how to work with your team as a Community of Practice. This takes a tremendous burden off of your shoulders! As a team, you will make things happen that you never thought you could. That’s the magic of Social Learning.

If you’re ready to tap into this latent power that your team has, please feel free to request a free 60-minute consultation to discuss how Social Learning can help your leadership team pivot in creating an equitable school environment — yes, even if this means creating new student schedules midyear!

Louise J Santiago, PhD
Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant

Where Leadership is Intentional Work

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