Because instruction will likely toggle between remote, face-to-face, and hybrid, it is important to think about how to create schedules that are best suited to meet different students’ needs. A 90-minute, hands-on science class in a physical classroom might work well for most students. But when students are learning at home, shorter stretches of time in class are more effective. At the same time, students also need more time in a safe space so they can connect with one another and be better prepared for academic learning. Furthermore, students, especially those just entering middle or high school, may need support in following a schedule unlike any they’ve had before and managing their time. Some schools successfully built in check-in time for a key adult to coach students on time management skills through changing expectations.

Advisory time“We need more advisory time so each teacher has a small group of kids and isn’t totally overwhelmed with trying to keep track of 80 kids but has a manageable number and can refer and get support from the guidance counselor or other staff. We were used to dealing with a smaller number of kids in crisis and suddenly now many more are in or potentially in crisis. “

Structured time is also essential for educators to collaborate. This is particularly important as they work together to try out and continuously improve what works best for student learning, especially as they use unfamiliar platforms. These “sacred” times for teachers and other staff allow them to share what they’ve learned, address challenges, and look at student work together to better understand what is working and what is not. Teacher teams and professional learning communities are a mainstay of this kind of continuous collaboration.

Guiding Questions

Plan to Collaborate, Collaborate to Plan“Pre-plan to agree on norms. Co-plan to ideate. Post-plan to debrief and iterate.”

  • What schedules work best for remote or hybrid instruction? What schedules maximize instruction and support for young people and build in time for adults to collaborate? What are reasonable expectations for teachers and students?
  • How can schedules allow for a variety of modes of instruction: live video classes, small group instruction, breakouts, one on one, group work, etc.?
  • Given that schools may shift in and out of remote learning, how can we respond to changing needs? How can districts and schools prepare and plan for these types of transitions?

Professional Development Connections

Use these selected strategies and resources
High-leverage Strategies Aligned Resources

Priorities for Daily Instructional Schedules

Create schedules based on these key priorities to maximize and balance instruction and support:

  • Strive to balance academic growth, social and emotional development, and overall well-being.
  • Reduce screen time and emphasize off-line independent work.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity, of assignments
  • Build in 15-minute breaks between classes and more time for students to meet with teachers and advisors during office hours.

Use the Bell Schedule Builder (Unlocking Time), a free tool to help school and district leaders experiment with their bell schedule, keep track of instructional minutes and visualize how changes to the bell schedule impact the student and staff experience.

Learn and borrow from these sample schedules illustrating different ways of using time.

Consistent Class Routines

Create consistent class routines to avoid cognitive overload and give students stability and familiarity.

Use the Planning Procedures for Supportive Environments tool to develop clear and consistent procedures and routines that help all young people feel safe to interact and engage in learning. (CASEL Guide to Schoolwide Social and Emotional Learning)

Common Planning Time

Schedule and protect frequent common planning time for teacher teams as a key place where teachers can stay nimble through likely changes and transitions.

Use these 4 Guiding Questions for Effective Remote Collaboration to reconsider how your teams work and what they tackle during remote learning. (Edutopia)

See related resources in the section on Instructional Strategies